The Art of the Negative Review Booker Prize Edition

Via Prufrock comes this examplee of “don’t pussy-foot around and get right to the point” review. Jessica Lambert on The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton:

What were the Booker Prize judges thinking? A hundred and fifty-one books were submitted for the prize this year; somewhere among that vast array of novels there must, surely, have been one that could have beaten this unenthralling whodunnit to the award. Maybe it was simply that, having trudged through all 836 pages of The Luminaries, they couldn’t bear to admit that such an exhausting journey had been in vain. But hundreds of pages doesn’t transform a mediocre novel into an epic — it just leaves you with an awfully large amount of mediocrity.

So, you didn’t like it?

As is my wont in these posts, I will offer a contrasting viewpoint.  And Bill Roorbach has a very different take:

“The Luminaries” is a true achievement. Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in so doing created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new. The pages fly, the great weight of the book shifting quickly from right hand to left, a world opening and closing in front of us, the human soul revealed in all its conflicted desperation. I mean glory. And as for the length, surely a book this good could never be too long.

As they say, your mileage may vary …

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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