Saturday, September 15, 2012


Jascha Golowanjuk Picture from here.
Literary critics have a tremendous influence on book sales. But people cannot be forced to love a book they have bought on recommendation. When I grew up many years ago, the Swedish Literary critics were snobbish when judging the immensely popular Swedish writer Jascha Golowanjuk (1903-1974). He had a new book out almost every year for over thirty years. He was one of the most borrowed authors in Swedish libraries but that did not impress the critics who labelled him an "entertainer writer". But people did not care what the critics said, they bought and borrowed his books in masses.

I must admit that I was influenced by the American literary critics' love affair with Jonathan Franzen (his father is Swedish). I first read "The Corrections" and liked it,  and then "Freedom". I enjoyed it, but felt that the book was perhaps constructed to tickle the critics in just the right places. 
People cannot be forced to love a book they do not like. These days you can find out what people like on Amazon. You could at the time this was written see that 1.081 people had written a review of Jonathan Franzen's book Freedom. A rewiew can get 5 stars.

There are almost the same amount of 5-star reviews as 1-star reviews. This is an unusual proportion, possibly due to people being influenced by critics, then being disappointed. People are very harsh in their criticism. Tough stuff. Maybe that is the price one pays when one is the darling of the critics?  
Which is best, to be a Jascha or a Jonathan?

No comments:

Post a Comment