The Review Apology

The Washington Post printed an apology to John Irving in Sunday's editor's note. His latest novel had been reviewed by Marianne Wiggins, who panned it, calling its writing style "lazy". She had a social relationship with Irving, which she did not disclose to the paper.

BookADay, who does not have connections to John Irving, plans to review Until I Find You.

This situation begs the question: how close it too close? Irving was a friend of Wiggins' ex-husband. Could it be that she didn't like the book, no matter to her relationship with him? Probably. Was she wrong in not telling The Washington Post. Definitely. Writers bump into reviewers all the time. Some reviewers, present company included, also write. I believe you always need to be honest about who you know and if it's really questionable, don't review it. That said, I also believe that you can read your best friend's book and if it's a bomb, you need to call it a bomb. Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Isn't the ex-husband in question Salman Rushdie?

I don't know that it has any bearing. I suppose more than anything, it shows that the literary world is a pretty small world. Which makes it hard for any author to review a colleague's work.

Brandi. said...

The very same.

I excluded it from the post for two reasons: 1) it was in the full text article 2) I was curious of people's opinions before they heard of the author.

Do you think The Washington Post would have issued an apology if her ex-husband was a first-time novelist? I don't.

Jase said...

Sometimes that's easier said than done. While I don't get asked by authors what I think of their writing very often, I do hang out with (and photograph) a lot of musicians and it comes to the same thing. If its someone you don't know at all, its much easier to be openly critical than it is with someone who you are friendly with. A lot of it is based on the temperaments involved.

In the end, I learned to pick my battles on that front. ;)