When the Man Booker shortlist was announced earlier this year, Andrew Holgate of the Sunday Times noted how the judges slagged off the while industry of creative book blurbs along with the celebrity quotes that publishers slap onto the back of their novels. Man Booker Prize longlist what book blurbs really mean Andrew Holgate of the Sunday Times

Reminding us that jacket blurbs are not disinterested critiques, but selling documents, he compares them to estate agent blurbs. And as with estate agents, you need to know the language – here (with his kind permission) is Andrew’s pocket guide:

What book blurbs really mean:

  • Lyrical=overwritten
  • Poetic=pretentious
  • Experimental=unreadable
  • Blackly comic=disturbed
  • Beautifully paced=slow
  • Fast-paced=confusing
  • Baroque=over-complicated
  • Sophisticated humour=not funny
  • Epic=the author wouldn’t let us edit it
  • Rewrites the rules=chaotic
  • Master craftsman=all his books are the same now
  • Her finest yet=slightly better than her last one
  • Think Dostoyevsky meets Joanna Trollope=it’s a car crash
  • The new Simenon=any French book with a detective in it
  • The new le Carré=downbeat, slow, with spies
  • The new Sebald=join the queue
  • The new Paula Hawkins=it’s got “Girl” in the title
  • If you love PG Wodehouse=then you’ll hate this
  • Perfervid efflorescence of sagacity=thinks he’s Will Self

Have you any favourites that he missed? (I’m off to take a quick and surreptitious look at the blurbs that my publishers have put on mine).

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