Hatchet Job of the Day (i)
The New Statesman’s Leo Robson perpetually manages to flabbergast us with his glittering intellect, his learned erudition, his familiarity with the literary canon and his unfailing ability to show them off. He’s even more adept at sticking the knife in:
Perhaps the cruellest fate you could visit on any new novel would be to stand it next to Henry James’s much-loved and equally loathed late novel The Ambassadors. But Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies, which invites the comparison, looks especially hunched, flimsy and knock-kneed. Ozick is the author of a number of admiring and somewhat anxious essays about her relationship to James, and she has now written a tribute (I think) to the novel that James considered his best. It emphasises, by way of contrast, the earlier book’s ingenuity, shrewdness and joy.
Min Jin Lee in the Times actually quite liked the book.
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