Arnon Grunberg



On Wednesday night I talked with three literary critics in Utrecht about the state of literary criticism in the Netherlands. We managed to avoid cultural pessimism and most forms of gloom.
One of the critics mentioned that he had the habit of reviewing books of friends. He just knew too many authors.
The friendship wasn’t an obstacle while weighing the value of the novel, according to him. Sometimes the friendship didn’t survive his honesty.
He developed the habit of calling an author-friend a day before the review would appear in the newspaper. According to him, he then would say something like this: ‘You are my friend, and you will be my friend forever, but tomorrow you will find a hatchet job in the newspaper, your last novel really disappointed me. I can’t help it. But you as a person never disappointed me. Keep that in mind when you think about our friendship.’

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