A Man Booker Prize judge has criticised the gushing blurbs authors put on the back of books, saying they can make readers feel "incompetent".
Colin Thubron hit out at annoying praise as he took part in the announcement of this year’s shortlist for the prestigious prize.
The British author and travel writer, who was longlisted for the award in 2002, said some blurbs almost blackmail readers into believing it is their fault if they don’t enjoy a novel.
He said the gushing praise from other authors and critics published on book covers makes him cringe.
While reading the titles submitted for this year’s Booker prize, Mr Thubron said he had learnt to ignore other authors’ quotes.
He said blurbs can blackmail you into feeling that you’re either intellectually or morally incompetent if you don’t love this book or you’ve failed if you haven’t understood it… that if you haven’t loved it, you haven’t got the point.
What other people think doesn’t matter at all, he added.
Mr Thubron did not aim his remarks towards any specific novelist, but said: I’m just a little bit surprised that authors aren’t embarrassed by these amazing expectations that you’re led to have about the book you’re about to read.
The nominees for this year’s £50,000 Booker Prize are:
:: 4321 by Paul Auster
:: History Of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
:: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
:: Elmet by Fiona Mozley
:: Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders
:: Autumn by Ali Smith
All of them have very flattering reviews in their blurbs.
Debut author Fiona Mozley’s blurb includes a review by The Economist that calls Elmet a quiet explosion of a book, exquisite and unforgettable, while the Evening Standard’s review of Autumn by Ali Smith says her writing lifts the soul.
The Man Booker Prize winner will be announced on 17 October.