Subscribe to The Horn Book

Reviewing from under a rock

RodneyDangerfieldI loved Michel Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White (try the audiobook if you want something immersive and long) and am looking forward to his Book of Strange New Things. But there was a passage in Marcel Theroux’s extremely laudatory NYT review last week  that’s driving me crazy: “Since the critical and commercial triumph of Hilary Mantel, the historical novel is newly respectable. One hopes that Michel Faber can do something similar for speculative writing.”

One hopes, does One? But does One read? I, who in private life pretty much run away from anything labelled speculative fiction, can easily reel off the names William Gibson, Octavia Butler, Kazuo Ishiguro, Neil Gaiman, Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood and Haruki Murakami as examples of writers who have made the genre respectable to non-specialists. To evince hope that Michel Faber might finally get speculative fiction some respect is like saying it’s about damn time that people started enjoying chocolate.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. And David Mitchell’s THE BONE CLOCKS. Good grief. Reviewers! (Ha.)

  2. This reminds me of (non-children’s) literary types discovering some random children’s book that they feel is up to snuff (usually when one of their own children brings it home), and heralding it as the harbinger of Serious Children’s Literature. This happens a lot. (I know a lot of academics.)

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind