Now we know what not to get Carmen Callil for her birthday. The author and publisher resigned from her position on the three-person panel for the elite Man Booker International prize following the announcement of this year's winner, Philip Roth. Based out of London, the Booker prize is awarded for a lifetime's body of work and comes with a purse of £60,000. Roth is no stranger to the awards circuit--in fact, he's won just about all of them.
The American author's first book, Goodbye, Columbus won the National Book Award in 1960 and in the 50 years since, he's won 21 more, including a Pulitzer Prize and National Medal of Arts.
Well enough is enough, says Callil. Expressing disgust that "yet another North American" writer had taken home the Booker prize, Callil offered The Guardian some colorful quotations about Roth's work. On his prose:
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.
On his career:
I don't rate him as a writer at all. I made it clear that I wouldn't have put him on the longlist, so I was amazed when he stayed there. He was the only one I didn't admire--all the others were fine. 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?
Fellow Booker prize judge stood behind the decision and point to the longevity of Roth's genius. "Tell me one other writer who 50 years apart writes masterpieces," said rare book dealer and author Rick Gekoski, citing how Roth has consistently delivered masterpieces since Goodbye, Columbus's breakout success up until his latest novel Nemesis. (We noticed at the time that the reviews were a bit spotty.)
Callil will apparently expand on her dislike for Philip Roth in a column in the Guardian Review this Saturday.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.