May 19, 2011

Booker judge feels that Philip Roth is sitting on her face


By majority decision, the Man Booker Prize International Prize, which celebrates a writer’s “overall contribution to fiction” and “body of work,” has been awarded to Philip Roth. “Majority” in this case means that the two male judges—publisher, book dealer, and author Rick Gekoski, and novelist Justin Cartwright—voted to award the prize to Roth. The third judge, Carmen Callil, who founded Virago Press and co-wrote The Modern Library: The Best 200 Novels in English since 1950, quit the judging panel in response to the decision. And she was quite vocal about her distaste for Roth’s “body” of work. Callil’s opinion of Roth, as quoted in The Guardian:

He goes on and on and on about the same subject in almost every single book. It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe….Roth goes to the core of their [Cartwright and Gekoski’s] beings. But he certainly doesn’t go to the core of mine … Emperor’s clothes: in 20 years’ time will anyone read him?