Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Athill Takes the Headlines

As posted yesterday, the 2008 Costa Awards have been announced. Now that some time has passed, it’s become clear that Diana Athill’s win in the biography category for her memoir Somewhere Towards the End is stealing all the headlines. Athill, now 91, has had a long career in the publishing industry as an editor, and her memoir has been received with glowing praise by the critics.

In the Washington Post, Michael Dirda comments, “[h]er easy-going prose and startling honesty are riveting. A refusal to sugar-coat and a commitment to utter frankness, coupled with an engaging style, make Diana Athill's Somewhere Towards the End unusually appealing ….” Arifa Akbar, writing for the Independent, describes Athill’s book as “unflinching … triggering an immense national response from readers and critics.” In the Telegraph, Sameer Rahim writes, “Diana Athill’s prize is richly deserved and in no sense a special favour. Her writing has wit, bite and honesty.” Sounds like it’s worth checking out.


Harvey said...


If you can't write a "frank" and "honest" memoir when you're 91, I guess you never will. I tried to get assigned to review this, but wasn't successful. If it's as good as her earlier memoir, Stet, then it's well worth reading.


rjnagle said...

Harvey: that is a hilarious remark.

I thought the same thing while watching Michael Apted's famous Up Series documentaries (the one where they interview the same people every 7 years). I noticed that amazing revelations come out about the people's past 7 or 14 years later (i.e., two episodes later). They no longer have reasons to be discreet about those things.

I always enjoy Michael Dirda's book reviews. I wouldn't have expected to find this kind of book interesting, but Dirda made it interesting. (Some of his collections are worth perusing too).