Friday, 8 February 2008


Great stuff.

Hannah Edelstein, in a well balanced article that looks at the wider scene and considers the feelings of the writers, comes out in favour of Zadie Smith and the Willesden Committee's initial decision not to award the prize.

She says:

It's ... rather depressing to think that...the committee was simply not able to elicit the calibre of entries they were looking for.
But after pondering this teacup-sized storm, and despite my sympathy for the disappointed competitors, I actually think that it is kind of refreshing. Judging from the banter on the blogosphere every time a new longlist is announced, it's apparent that many think the returns of literary prizes are diminishing.
So I rather think it's time someone stood up and said that they weren't just going to hand out stacks of cash to writers just because the calendar requires it. Of course there are going to be periods when the output of writers is more fallow, so why not remark upon it, rather than bowing to the pressure to celebrate something - anything - for tradition's sake? I kind of admire Smith and the rest of the Willesden judges for being the ones to make that stand.




kate said...

I read this morning that one of the short stories considered 'not good enough' was in fact by Katharine Mansfield - when I finished laughing I thought, well that's what makes horse racing and always will.

Vanessa G said...

Hello Kate!!

I think that was a not-truism posted on a comment, and picked up by The Sunday Times as fact.

Stephen, who adores KM's work, says this did not happen.

Who's to say? But it always makes me laugh when the papers play these supposedly 'clever n meaningful' tricks on publishers by sending them work written many many years ago, and considered classic. Then wonder why the publisher didn't jump to publish it today. Maybe the answer is a simple as 'it's out of date'!

Look forward to seeing you at the book launch...