Novel of the week: Sour Grapes by Dan Rhodes
This novel is an ‘enjoyable romp’ that nails the literati’s ‘overblown sense of self-importance’
In 2017, Dan Rhodes “severed all ties” with his long-standing publisher, Canongate, following a row over missing royalties, said David Sexton in The Sunday Times. His new novel is an act of revenge, targeting the “whole books business”.
In the village of Big Bottom, a “preposterous literary festival” is being held – at which arrives Wilberforce Selfram, a “tall, cadaverous writer” known for using absurdly long words and for pronouncing everything as “symptomatic of a broad cultural malaise”. Fun is poked at various other literary eminences: J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie, the festival director Peter Florence. “The effect is just hilarious”: I read this novel in one sitting, “laughing like a banshee”.
It didn’t have that effect on me, said Adam Roberts in The Guardian. The satire feels very outdated, and the overwhelming focus on the Will Self character “unbalances the whole”.
Yes, it’s cartoonish and rather uneven, said Rosemary Goring in the Scottish Herald. But it’s an “enjoyable romp” – one that “nails many pretensions, not least the literati’s overblown sense of self-importance”.
Lightning 384pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99
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