Wasserman’s and Romano’s clashes with their editors point to another symptom of the anti-intellectualism of many newspaper book reviews: their lack of curiosity about works in translation. Translations are occasionally reviewed by newspapers, but generally only if the author of the title under review is a Nobel laureate or a well-known personality in her native country, or when the translation rights to a book were purchased during a bidding war. Being an author from an impoverished, war-torn country or with a melodramatic life story helps too. The latter is one of the reasons the work of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño has been widely reviewed in the United States whereas that of many of his peers in Latin America has not.
And newspaper book reviews, which are often accused of hewing too closely to “safe choices,” could learn something from the more freewheeling approach of some of the book blogs, said David L. Ulin, who edits the book review at The Los Angeles Times.
Newspaper Book Review Virginia SOLs 1.9, 1.12, 2.8, 2.11
Maud Newton, who has been writing a literary blog since 2002, said she has the freedom to follow obsessions like, say, Mark Twain in a way that a newspaper book review could not, unless there was a current book on the subject. But she would never consider what she does a replacement for more traditional book reviews.