Lost For Words
Edward St Aubyn
Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize
Each of the judges of the Elysian Prize for literature has a reason for accepting the job. For the chairman, MP Malcolm Craig, it is backbench boredom, media personality Jo Cross is on the hunt for a 'relevant' novel, and Oxbridge academic Vanessa Shaw is determined to discover good writing. But for Penny Feathers of the Foreign Office, it's all just getting in the way of writing her own thriller. Over the next few weeks they must read hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year, and so the judges spar, cajole and bargain in order that their chosen title gets the recognition it deserves.
Meanwhile, a host of authors are desperate for Elysian glory, including brilliant writer and serial heart-breaker Katherine Burns, lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black, and Sonny, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will take the literary world by storm.
Lost for Words is razor-sharp and fabulously entertaining. It cuts to the quick of some of the deepest questions about the place of art in our celebrity-obsessed culture, and asks how we can ever hope to recognize real talent when everyone has an agenda.
Written with restless wit . . . a pleasure.
What makes you smile, and smile, and smile is the elegance of the writing. Seldom was so much pretentiousness skewered so stylishly.
Novel of the Week, Mail on Sunday