One-Minute Book Reviews

March 15, 2007

Second Runner-up for the 2007 Delete Key Award: ‘The Emperor’s Children’ by Claire Messud

The second runner-up for the 2007 Delete Key Award for the year’s worst writing in books is …

The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud

How did this pretentious novel end up on so many best-of-the-year lists? Who knows? Every year there’s at least one book that earns praise far out of proportion to its merits. (Remember the great reviews Mitch Albom got when he started writing books? How hollow does some of the praise seem now?) The most overrated book of 2006 was The Emperor’s Children, a windy and cliché-infested novel full of repulsive characters who move in eddies around an aging New York journalist.

So why didn’t it win top honors in the Delete Key Awards competition for the year’s worst writing in books? Tedious as much of this novel is, The Emperor’s Children picks up steam in the last one hundred or so pages, when it borrows some drama from the events of Sept. 11, 2001. How many readers will stick with it until then?

Original review on One-Minute Book Reviews: Oct. 4, 2006, “The Emperor’s Children Wear Clichés,” Oct. 4, 2006, archived with the October posts and in the “Novels” category.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. I am so proud. This was the only one of the titles I had (tried) to read. I gave up.

    Comment by kinderny — March 15, 2007 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  2. And I am so thankful for comments like this. My thought on these awards is that they will have been a sucess if they persuade even a few people to wait for the paperback instead of spending money on the hardcover. (Or, better still, to get a bad book out of the library if they believe have to read it; this would not only save money but take the library copy out of circulation or a couple of weeks, which might encourage others who thought they wanted to read it to look for something that might be better.)

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — March 15, 2007 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

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