04 August, 2021

Britannia Rules, RIP

A long-playing anthology is short on British hits

Britannia Rules, RIP
This collection reminds one of the stereotype of British cuisine: there's plenty to chew on, but much that is stodgy, bland or indigestible. In her introduction to the 9th volume in the New Writing series, A.L. Kennedy calls it "a type of annual literary census of British writing". Judging by the results, there is little for the British to cheer about.

Many pieces included here appear to have exited from creative writing workshops: indeed, they should have stayed there. The self-conscious sterility that adheres to modern British art taints this collection too, particularly in the poetry department. A plethora of work, one suspects, was written for women's magazines with high-minded aims - far too many stories end as soppily as a romance novel.

One cannot help but wonder why British writing has degenerated to this point, where it resembles rejects from the New Yorker in the days of its less exciting fiction. Several online magazines have also proved that contemporary writing is alive and kicking, so the tedium of this anthology comes as a surprise....

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