Read Some of the Meanest Book Reviews of the Year


Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending may have been one of 2011’s most acclaimed novels, scooping up the Man Booker Prize and eliciting all manner of ecstatic praise. But it didn’t impress the brilliant and iconoclastic writer Geoff Dyer, who reviewed the book for The New York Times, and found that “any extreme expression of opinion about The Sense of an Ending feels inappropriate. It isn’t terrible, it is just so . . . average. It is averagely compelling (I finished it), involves an average amount of concentration and, if such a thing makes sense, is averagely well written: excellent in its averageness!”

It’s impossible to deny the fun in reading a nasty review that also happens to be smart, lively, and hilarious. So, if you enjoyed the excerpt above, chances are you’ll love all eight pieces that made the shortlist for The Omnivore‘s first annual Hatchet Job of the Year Award, which honors what its judges deem “the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review published in a newspaper or magazine in 2011.” The winner will be announced February 7th. See who joins Dyer among the finalists after the jump, let us know which review you think is most deliciously mean.

Hatchet Job of the Year Award Shortlist:

Mary Beard on Rome by Robert Hughes, Guardian

Geoff Dyer on The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, New York Times

Camilla Long on With the Kisses of His Mouth by Monique Roffey, Sunday Times

Lachlan Mackinnon on Clavics by Geoffrey Hill, Independent

Adam Mars-Jones on By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham, Observer

Leo Robson on Martin Amis: The Biography by Richard Bradford, New Statesman

Jenni Russell on Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital by Catherine Hakim, Sunday Times

David Sexton on The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, London Evening Standard