My book, Judge for Yourself, will be published on 5 October 2020 with Routledge:
Judge for Yourself guides interested and advanced-level readers through the challenge of judging the quality of hyper-contemporary literature. Whether reading the latest bestseller or the book that everyone is recommending, Judge for Yourself guides you through the challenge of the text. Reading the longlist of the 2019 International Dylan Thomas Prize through five chapters, Judge for Yourself introduces readers to current critical debates that inform engagement and the reading experience of hyper-contemporary writing. Topics covered include feminism, postcolonialism, critical race theory, queer theory, class, and book reviews. Each chapter includes introductory questions for the reader, and Judge for Yourself is accompanied by an exploration of book prize culture and the challenge posed by hyper-contemporary literature. Judge for Yourself puts judging firmly in the hands of the reader, and not the academic or professional reviewers.
Following a module I taught at Swansea University in 2019, Routledge commissioned me to write Judge for Yourself. The module reading list was populated by the International Dylan Thomas Prize’s 2019 longlist, and was therefore unpredictable, varied, and representative of top-quality writing from 2019.
Judge for Yourself provided the original impetus for this blog, and the book is where I have fully described my term ‘hyper-contemporary literature’. In a future blog, I will explain the idea in more detail, but in brief: hyper-contemporary literature is recently published writing that has not yet gathered a critical consensus. The ordinary reader, therefore, is in an equal position with the academic or professional reviewer to help determine whether the writing is good or bad. It is up to the reader, and not the academy or ‘elite’ readers, to decide whether this literature is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and which criteria are best suited to help readers make their judgement.
In short, hyper-contemporary literature invites the reader to judge for herself.
Judge for Yourself is available for pre-order.