In a scenario that will sound familiar to U.S. readers, Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagan has said that popular English TV hosts Richard and Judy treat their book club followers as if they were “stupid” (“Richard and Judy ‘treat their readers as stupid,’” by Senay Boztas, The Observer):
‘We have an industry where we have a Richard and Judy culture,’ he said at a debate on whether or not the novel is overrated. ‘Certain totemic elements, certain gongs must been struck for a novel to be worthy of presentation to a mass audience. This is a coarsening.
‘[The Richard and Judy book club] is a wasted opportunity … They have a massive captive audience of people who aren’t completely undiscerning; they aren’t stupid. Why are they treating them as if they are stupid? There is an opportunity to use that connection to turn a generation on to good writing.’
I wonder if he’ll refuse to go on the show. Wait, what’s that? He wasn’t invited?
Interestingly, O’Hagan went on to praise Oprah and criticize Franzen (“who wasn’t happy to be read but that was inverted snobbery”). So never mind that angle.
For the record, I think O’Hagan is a wonderfully intelligent writer–and perfect book club material.