Critical Mass

Roundup 9

By Jane Ciabattari

Scott McLemee on Susan Sontag, ABD.

Mark Sarvas looks at “The Northern Clemency” here. “That this resolutely British novel was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize is not nearly as surprising as its enthusiastic reception by American critics and “best of” listmakers, as this tale of two Sheffield families is likely, at times, to bewilder American audiences. Rich with cultural references and British slang (‘mardy,’ which means surly or sulky, and ‘nesh,’ which suggests a fear of or susceptibility to cold), it’s a book best read by Yanks with ready access to Google or Wikipedia. Subtleties of class—a common theme of much British fiction—are also explored here in ways that Americans might have trouble decoding. And hovering over the proceedings, like Marley’s Ghost, is the miners’ strike.

Talking to Philip Hensher, John Freeman discovers “The Northern Clemency” sprang from his boyhood in Sheffield.

Meanwhile, Freeman’s chat with Publishers Weekly here….

Eric Banks looks at A.N. Wilson’s “Winnie and Wolf,” finds ” the dog-loving future F├╝hrer of Winnie and Wolf is among the most compelling Hitlers drawn to this point in literature.

How many short stories made the “best of 2008“lists?

Kathryn Harrison examnes the soul-weariness in Kathleen Norris’s “Acedia & Me.”