Fischer on Judging

This has already been linked from here to Sunday, but Tibor Fischer explains how authors can get on his longlist. Beyond all the jokes, Fischer’s comments about publishing sound rather familiar.

More remarkable was the number of novels that were pointless. Not bad, not reproachable in any way except one: they were utterly nondescript (mind you, there’s always been a clique in literary London who feel that real literature should be dry, colourless, a bit of a penance if you’re enjoying it, it can’t be literature). I’d estimate nearly a third of the submissions fell into this category.

As Maud pointed out, a couple of months ago, Katharine Viner, who served as a judge for the Orange Prize, made similar comments.

There were two particularly low points. One was when I had a run of books about nothing. These were usually by authors from the US, who have attended prestigious creative writing courses, often at the University of Iowa. They are books with 500 pages discussing a subtle but allegedly profound shift within a relationship. They are books where intricate descriptions of a man taking a glass out of the dishwasher, taking a tea-towel off a rail, opening out the tea-towel, then delicately drying the glass with the tea-towel, before pouring a drink into the glass, signify that he has just been through a divorce.