Reviewing the Work, the Writer

I was quite interested in Patrick Neate’s review of Soul City

It is increasingly difficult to read a novel on its own terms. Even if you tear off the dust jacket, scrub the author photo and ignore the promotional blurbs, someone, somewhere (whether professional critic, blogger or even the author himself) is just desperate to tell you whether this book and, especially, its writer are cool or not. The writer is not just a writer; he’s a brand with specific attributes. To consume his work is to make a statement about yourself as surely as if your chest were emblazoned with a fashion designer’s logo.

I guess Neate takes this mantra to heart, because his byline reads a simple, “Author of.” At any rate, he delivers an interesting review of Soul City, though he can’t help but engage in that very thing he warned about in his introduction: Comment on the author, not the work.


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