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mike js

When authors attack

Yesterday, I was somewhat taken aback to read this entry in Christopher Priest's journal on his website:

Sounds like he was in quite a bad mood! He says some cutting things about most of the books that made the shortlist for the 2012 Arthur C Clarke award. (Note: his own novel didn't make the shortlist.) He also attacks the panel of judges.

I know that literary (or genre) prizes can be somewhat controversial. Personally, I think that there is no one right answer to which books are the best of a crop, though people might agree on some general criticisms or praise. Anyway, you have to admire Christopher Priest's forthright approach without fear of alienating himself from future prizes. On the other hand, he is probably not expecting to finish another novel in the near future.

It is interseting that China Mieville has won often and is on the shortlist again. I thought his City and the City was excellent and excellent, but I have not been so keen to read some of his others, especially the massive tomes.
mike js

Oops, sorry moderators if I have started this in an awkward place. Please move it if needed.

I don't think this is the first such rant from Christopher Priest. He was one of Granta's seminal list of 'Best of Young British Novelists', in 1983, and I have to admit, was the only one of them whose work I did not read at the time. His fantasy/SF/thriller mix simply did not and does not appeal to me. A few years after that, he made a similar attack, I seem to recall on publishers who were not snapping up his work with the keenness he clearly felt he was owed. I could be wrong, but I think he may have self-published for a year or two after that.

Personally, I doubt whether this sort of outburst does an author much good - it tends to leave me feeling that here is a person with an unrealistically high opinion of their own talents, and that there may be good reasons why they are being neglected. On the other hand, I have never read anything by Priest, so I am not in a good position to pass any sort of judgement.

Remember we had a thread last year on authors who were born on the same day as you? Well, it appears that I share a birthday (14th July) with Christopher Priest! Not much other common ground though, I suspect.

I haven't read him but I just thought this outburst was sour and unpleasant.  (Though I do understand that if you think you are a 'proper' writer, then being linked with a popular one like Mark Billington might not be to your taste.)

Doesn't mince his words does he?!

You could say it was a case of sour grapes but I think he does make a few fair points amongst all the bile.  The trouble is the fair points get lost and people will only remember the biting remarks, which will do him no favours.

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