Nominees for ‘Hatchet Job of the Year’, a prize for the best scathing review of an (un)worthy book, have been listed. Prominent among them are Richard Evans’s review of A. N. Wilson’s biography of Hitler, Ron Charles’s wearied appraisal of Martin Amis’s latest, and Suzanne Moore’s critique of fellow feminist Naomi Wolf’s brazenly titledVagina.
All three are worthy contenders but the presumptive winner must be Zoe Heller’s superb take-down of Salman Rushdie’s memoir Joseph Anton. It is probably unfair to loathe a book one hasn’t read, but Heller’s evisceration is pretty damn persuasive.
According to Heller, Rushdie claimed that one of his aim in writing the book “was to be ‘tougher’ on himself ‘than on anybody else’”; an aim which, if Heller’s review is anything to go by, he emphatically fails to achieve.