Booker winner lashes out at fellow authors


The prestigious Booker literary prize and a tenfold jump in sales have not softened John Banville's view of the work of some of his fellow authors. Banville said writers err when they take on topics like Iraq and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he sparked a strong reaction when he called McEwan's Saturday, which dealt with those themes, a "dismayingly bad book" in the New York Review of Books.


A graceless, ill-mannered idiot, at that.

It's true that books about current events run the risk of quickly becoming dated and trivial. It's also true that books about entirely personal and interior life experiences run the risk of being trivial right from the start. It's not the material; it's what the writer has to say about it, and how well they say it.

Having, and expressing in print in a review, a highly negative opinion of another writer's work is absolutely his right. But I have difficulty believing that someone who didn't know enough to realize he might get a negative reaction when he called a highly-regarded fellow novelist's latest work "dismayingly bad", and couldn't muster a decent show of modest gratitude when he was awarded a major literary prize, knows enough about human beings to have anything interesting to say about them.

(And no, I haven't read McEwan's latest, and have no idea whether or not it deserved the Booker, Banville's review, or anything in between.)

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