Hatchet Job of the Year 2014: And this year’s prize for the best literary hatchet job goes to...
A A Gill, Peter Kemp and David Sexton in the running for the award that celebrates the year's most acerbic, entertaining critical put-downs
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 14 January 2014
Morrissey’s autobiography won few plaudits on publication, but it now finds itself on an awards shortlist alongside Donna Tartt’s new effort and Eleanor Catton’s Booker Prize-winning work. Sadly, for them all, “The Hatchet Job of the Year” prize rounds up books which received the most scathing reviews of the past year.
They celebrate the most acerbic, entertaining critical put-downs, and are becoming one of the year’s most anticipated literary events.
A A Gill said Morrissey’s book was a “heavy tome, utterly devoid of insight, warmth, wisdom or likeability” and added that should an editor start cutting it “there would be no stopping”. Fleur Macdonald, editor of the review round-up website Omnivore, which runs the prize, said: “There were a few possibilities for Morrissey reviews, but the judges thought A A Gill’s was the funniest.”
Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which was more than 10 years in the making, received rave reviews – but not from Peter Kemp, who called it “ineptly put-together” and “a turkey”. While David Sexton took aim at Catton’s The Luminaries, as “annoying”, and added: “This novel consumes itself.”
The prize will be awarded on 11 February.
Cutting remarks: Two of the best and worst
A A Gill on Autobiography by Morrissey
The Sunday Times
‘There are many pop autobiographies that shouldn’t be written. Some to protect the unwary reader, and some to protect the author. In Morrissey’s case, he has managed both. This is a book that cries out like one of his maudlin ditties to be edited. But were an editor to start, there would be no stopping. It is a heavy tome, utterly devoid of insight, warmth, wisdom or likeability. It is a potential firelighter of vanity, self-pity and logorrhoeic dullness. Putting it in Penguin Classics doesn’t diminish Aristotle or Homer or Tolstoy; it just roundly mocks Morrissey... a humiliation constructed by the self-regard of its victim.’
Peter Kemp on The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt,
The Sunday Times
‘Outdoing even The Little Friend, famously a decade in the writing, The Goldfinch has taken 11 years to appear. These epic gestations are attributed by awed Tartt admirers and devotees of websites such as Donna Tartt Shrine to uncompromising perfectionism. “It’s because of perfectionism that man walked on the Moon and painted the Sistine Chapel, OK? Perfectionism is good,” she has stressed. But it’s hard to spot much of it in this ineptly put-together book ... no amount of straining for high-flown uplift can disguise the fact that The Goldfinch is a turkey.’
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 'Do not give them a reason': Baltimore man divides police and rioters in hope of avoiding violence
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark finale review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
The Visit: Watch terrifying trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3 - review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton, really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia