Roth In The Round

on Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Ho Hum Hurrah! Pop the champagne, Philip Roth has won yet another prize that isn't the Nobel. Yes folks, the great American superhero and yellow raincoat-wearing fogey has scooped himself a Booker. Sort of. One of the meaningless minor ones (second only to the prestigious Best of Beryl) but a Booker nonetheless.

Old news, I know. But what is far more exciting is the spectacular dummy spit by Man Booker International judge and Virago founder Carmen Callil who wouldn't have put Ol' Phil on the long list, let alone the shortlist. In a refreshingly humorous burst of vitriol, Callil said that she didn't even rate him as a writer. "He goes on and on about the same subject in almost every single book," she is reported to have said, inviting obvious comparisons between the 'last great America author' and other cultural luminaries such as AC/DC, Michael Bay and Dan Brown. But she didn't stop there, adding, "It's as though he's sitting on your face and you can't breathe." Right, so Callil isn't a fan of tea-bagging either.

Prize chair, and token American, Rick Gekoski wasn't impressed, labelling Callil disrespectful. Justin Cartwright (aka The Other Guy On The Panel) has stayed totally shtum on the topic, lest it hurt his chances of one day picking up a real Booker. Plus, with the 60,000 pound prize money, Uncle Phil now owes Juzzy a fancy dinner next time he comes to town.

Who doesn't wish that this sort of shit happened with other literary prizes? Maybe then people would bother to pay some attention to the dirty, spiteful world that is modern literature. Bring on round two!


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