Entertainment

Hatchet Job award goes to Cunningham takedown

A critic who accused a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of scattering literary allusions like 'tin cans tied to a tricycle' has won a prize for the year's most lacerating book review.
Michael Cunningham, seen in 2007, penned a novel 'filled with thoughts about art, or (more ominously) Thoughts about Art,' according to reviewer and Hatchet Job of the Year award-winner Adam Mars-Jones. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

A critic who accused a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist of scattering literary allusions like "tin cans tied to a tricycle" has won a prize for the year's most lacerating book review.

Adam Mars-Jones' review of Michael Cunningham's novel By Nightfall was named the winner of the Hatchet Job of the Year Award.

The review condemns the novel's pretensions, saying it is "filled with thoughts about art, or (more ominously) Thoughts about Art."

Mars-Jones, a British-born novelist, was awarded a golden hatchet and a year's supply of potted shrimp at a ceremony Tuesday in London.

Other nominees included:

  • Mary Beard on Rome by Robert Hughes (published in The Guardian).
  • Geoff Dyer on The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (published in The New York Times).
  • Camilla Long on With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey (published in The Sunday Times).
  • Lachlan Mackinnon on Clavics by Geoffrey Hill (published in The Independent).
  • Leo Robson on Martin Amis: The Biography by Richard Bradford (published in New Statesman).
  • Jenni Russell on Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital by Catherine Hakim (published in The Sunday Times).
  • David Sexton on The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy (published in London Evening Standard).

The U.K.-centric prize was established by review aggregating website The Omnivore to honor "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant" review published in a newspaper or magazine in 2011.