Peoplification at the NYT

Briefly noted, with surprise, the beginning of Clancy Martin’s review of Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish (NYT Book Review on the 21st); crucial bit in boldface:

In the next life, this would be a simple happy story about a young Chinese immigrant and an American war hero who find love in 21st-century New York City.

But the real 21st-century New York isn’t a place for simple happy love stories. In “Preparation for the Next Life,” his astonishing, gorgeous and very upsetting debut novel, Atticus Lish (son of the editor, writer and teacher Gordon Lish) introduces a poor Muslim immigrant, Zou Lei, and her suicidally shellshocked boyfriend, Brad Skinner, who don’t stand a chance in the unfeeling city.

What on earth does the identity of the author’s father have to do with this book? Absolutely nothing, so far as I can see. It seems to be nothing more than a celebrity note, the sort of thing that People magazine revels in, but should have no place in the NYT.

The book has gotten very strong reviews and should have been able to stand on its own merits, without this silly puffery.

One Response to “Peoplification at the NYT”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    In the 2/5/15 NYRB, there’s a long, wildly positive review of the book (‘A Beautiful, Mournful Novel’) by Cathleen Schine that focuses entirely on the book, with no mention of anything else. That’s the way to do it.

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