A Sunday Times review of a divorce memoir has been labelled ‘Hatchet Job of the Year’.
Journalist Camilla Long’s highly critical response to Aftermath by Rachel Cusk earns her a golden hatchet and a year’s supply of potted shrimp, courtesy of the award’s fishmonger sponsor.
The book, published last year, details the break-up of Cusk’s marriage to photographer Adrian Clarke and their subsequent divorce. It received mixed reviews. The Telegraph and Independent both praised the book for its literary style but Long described the book as:
“…acres of poetic whimsy and vague literary blah, a needy, neurotic mandolin solo of reflections on child sacrifice and asides about drains.”
The book does not explain why Cusk and her husband broke up. She had, claimed the journalist:
“…forced [Clarke] to give up his job in order to look after the kids. She pours scorn on his “dependence” and “unwaged domesticity”, but won’t do chores herself because they make her feel, of all things, “unsexed”. She is horrified when he demands half of everything in the divorce: “They’re my children,” she snarls. “They belong to me.”
Award judge Lynn Barber said:
“I thought what was wonderful about Camilla’s review was that it totally hatcheted the book, but in such an intriguing way that I then thought I must read Aftermath – and did, and loved it because it was just as weird as Camilla said. So a hatchet job isn’t necessarily a turnoff.”
The award was launched by literary review website The Omnivore, to encourage “fearless” reviews.
Photo by Dee West via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence