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Lost for words

Lost for words

St. Aubyn, Edward, 1960- author

Each of the judges of the Elysian Prize for literature has a reason for accepting the job. For the chairman, MP Malcolm Craig, it is backbench boredom, media personality Jo Cross is on the hunt for a relevant novel, and Oxbridge academic Vanessa Shaw is determined to discover good writing. But for Penny Feather of the Foreign Office, it's all just getting in the way of writing her own thriller. Over the next few weeks they must read hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year, and so the judges spar, cajole and bargain in order that their chosen title gets the recognition it deserves

Hardback, Book. English. General.
Published London: Picador, 2014

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Statement of responsibility: Edward St Aubyn
ISBN: 0330454226, 9780330454223
Physical Description: 260 pages ; 21 cm

Author note

Edward St Aubyn was born in London in 1960. His superbly acclaimed Patrick Melrose novels are Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006) and At Last. He is also the author of the novels A Clue to the Exit and On the Edge.


Edward St Aubyn is among the handful of the current giants of English fiction. He has always had an eye for the sort of satire that does not exclude compassion and understanding; now that eye is trained on the absurd world of awarding literary prizes. The results are hilarious!||This is a seriously entertaining and inventive novel by which I mean it is not serious at all but exceptionally entertaining and inventive. And seriously good. Edward St Aubyn is already considered the master of social satire . . . With Lost for Words, he cements this reputation and, if anything, surpasses himself . . . The writing is brilliantly playful . . . A lesser author might have steered clear of such a large cast of characters but St Aubyn manages them effortlessly . . . Brilliantly plotted . . . In the end, St Aubyn hits a note of truth and optimism. To do this without becoming saccharine and didactic is an amazing achievement . . . Please read this book if you're in a bad mood. You will be cured of it.
Sunday Express||The book is a riot, complete with belly-achingly hilarious pastiches of the bonkers novels that are sent in for the prize to consider
Sunday Times||Lost for Words is a long-overdue, laugh-out-loud satire on the whole business of literary prizes
London Evening Standard||[An] intricate satire, written with restless wit . . . A gorgeous viciousness is present . . . St Aubyn's ear for fakery never falters . . . This novel is a pleasure to read
Observer||Anyone cynical about literary prizes will laugh out loud at Edward St Aubyn's delightful satire . . . as his novel hilariously demonstrates, notions of what constitutes literary pedigree are as fickle as the wind . . . What makes you smile, and smile and smile is the elegance of the writing. Seldom was so much pretentiousness skewered so stylishly.
Mail on Sunday||Everything St. Aubyn writes is worth reading for the cleansing rancor of his intelligence and the fierce elegance of his prose
New York Times Book Review||A fizzing satire that neatly skewers all the contradictions and absurdities of literary prize-giving, and the awkward fit between literature and 'celebrity'
Daily Telegraph||Lost for Words is a witty, often excoriating, riposte to the phenomenon and workings of major book awards
Independent||Fun, black and brilliant stuff. Lost for Words - puckish, bitchy and shamelessly silly . . . Very clever and extremely funny.
The Times||St Aubyn's latest novel is an entertaining satire on the literary-prize industry, full of splendid jokes
Tatler||Edward St Aubyn takes a very sharp and deserved satirical knife to a world riddled with agendas, thick with vanity and unable to look beyond itself, otherwise known as the world of literature
Press Association||With his Patrick Melrose novels Edward St Aubyn confirmed his standing as one of our great literary writers, with a fine elegant style that was both capable of handling pathos, tragedy and heartbreaking humour. In Lost for Words we follow the judges of the Elysian Prize for fiction and the hopeful authors desperate for literary glory. From the chairman of the judges standing up for the reader, to the judge who will consider a book on its length rather than quality, the novel is a thinly-veiled, brilliant satire on literary life and the Man Booker Prize
Bath Magazine||Edward St Aubyn is easily among the best of contemporary British novelists, writing with a cold crystal-clean precision, creating beautifully-honed sentences and striking metaphors that would be the envy of any writer. In addition he is, in Lost for Words, extremely funny as well, with humour ranging from carefully plotted mishaps and sophisticated put-downs to pure slapstick
The Bay||The prize should go to Mr St Aubyn, if only for the parodies from his fictional shortlist . . . It must have been fun to write and is fun to read
Country Life||St Aubyn here turns his biting wit on to the whole sorry business of literary prizes in a comedy worthy of the young Evelyn Waugh
Evening Standard||This will make you chuckle aloud
Country & Town House||Shot through with moments of profundity and grace
Irish Times||[St Aubyn's] humour remains winningly dark and his one-liners elegantly brittle
Reader's Digest||Not a word is extraneous or a comma out of place
Vogue||A hilarious, acid-tongued novel
Woman & Home||Hilarious, elegant and written with effortless insight into people's behaviour. He's such a perceptive writer and does in a few words what would take anyone else several hundred pages
Guardian||Sharp, satirical
Huffington Post