Backlash

It’ll be a long time before I get round to reading Anne Enright’s Booker-winning latest, or anything at all she has written, as I have a big long list of books already bought and not read, and no money to be buying more. In fact, it’s probably more reasonable to predict that I will never read it, although from what I hear I’m sure it’s pretty good.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t get interested in the fallout from her award. As Sinéad reports here, she has been the subject of a backlash after she won the Booker the other night. Today’s Independent has a piece continuing proceedings:

Enright also talked about how her own feelings towards the McCanns and their story swayed one way and then the other. But crucially, at the end of the piece, she said that she ended up liking the McCanns.

Why, begob, is it ‘crucial’ that she should end up ‘liking the McCanns’? If she had not done so, would she have deserved different treatment? Suppose she had written a piece instead talking simply about how much she liked the McCanns: how manly and gruff Gerry is, and how delicate and nice Kate is, and left it at that: would anything have been said at all? It is as though there were an unspoken requirement by nutters nationwide to like the McCanns or face the consequences.

Anyway, there is also suspicion of an Irish author winning, apparently:

The fact that Enright was a surprise winner in the Man Booker may also have been a factor. This is the second time in three years that an Irish writer has won the Booker, and that may have caused some resentment in the British press.

Dem awfil Brits. Those living in the real world might be more inclined to think that, if there has indeed been a backlash , it is on account of the fact that at least 2 out of the last 3 winners appear to have been rather grim and gloomy affairs (I haven’t read The Sea, but I’ll bet John Banville didn’t decide to change the habit of a lifetime and instead write a book full of knee-slapping one-liners, and I have been putting The Inheritance of Loss, of which I do have a copy, on the long and winding finger), and not an ideal accompaniment to the nearing plunge into long winter nights.

Another possible, but less charitable, explanation is that Britain is full of nutters who demand that people like Ian McEwan.

Update: Mary Kenny is off her rocker, again. Apparently an article in the London Review of Books (that well-known port of call for unhinged mobs with torches alight and pitchforks a-twirling) is worthy of comparison to one of the most notorious scandals of the 19th century.

It is not only prejudice: it is dangerous prejudice. It encourages a mob feeling — which exists and always will exist — that “there is no smoke without fire”, and “a nod is as good as a wink”, and all the rest of that ignorant farrago.

These were the grounds on which Alfred Dreyfus, in the notorious case which broke France in the 1890s, was wrongly convicted of treason. Dreyfus was accused of passing military secrets to Germany, basically on the grounds that people didn’t like the look of him. That is to say, he was Jewish, and he looked it, and if you added up two and two, wasn’t a Jew the more likely to betray France? Thus was the infamous miscarriage of justice mounted on prejudice, on hearsay, on malign gossip, and above all, encouraging the mob to find a scapegoat they could hate.

Egad! She’s an Ian McEwan partisan too:

Ms Enright has apologised and expressed her regrets but she should take a leaf from a fellow author’s book by now showing atonement.

Stone me. I had breakfast in Avoca this morning (the shop, not the village). De-lightful pancakes, but the acoustics in that place are appalling! You can’t even hear yourself talk bollocks!

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