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Lost for Words

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,777 ratings  ·  489 reviews
The judges on the panel of the Elysian Prize for Literature must get through hundreds of submissions to find the best book of the year. Meanwhile, a host of writers are desperate for Elysian attention: the brilliant writer and serial heartbreaker Katherine Burns; the lovelorn debut novelist Sam Black; and Bunjee, convinced that his magnum opus, The Mulberry Elephant, will ...more
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published May 20th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2014)
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Jun 23, 2014 rated it liked it
When Edward St. Aubyn's dead and his legacy gets hammered out, Lost for Words will be considered one of his minor works.

Don't get me wrong, this book was fun enough. I read it in a day, and when I put it down, looked forward to picking it up again. But ultimately I found it slight, disappointing, and not nearly as good as its writer.

Which is, you know, fine. We're all entitled to a good time, and St. Aubyn has the right to hit the little bloop single instead of crushing everything out of the par
Apr 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The 2011 Booker awards season is the gift that keeps on giving.

The chair that year was Stella Rimington, an ex-spymaster for MI5 whose purported link to literature is her retirement hobby of penning apparently adequately competent spy thrillers. She wasn’t off to a good start with the literary critics (who she likened to the KGB) when she announced that this year the focus would be on “readability”. One of her judges supported her by saying that for him, the novels “had to zip along”. Oh. My. Go
Jun 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Before I begin this review, let me just state that I loved the Edward St Aubyn Patrick Melrose novels. When my book club chose this as a monthly choice, I was very pleased and eager to read something else by him. Unlike previous works by St Aubyn which I have read, this is a satirical look at a fictitious literary prize, the Elysian Prize; although the author barely bothers to disguise the fact that he is writing about the Booker.

We begin with a backbench MP with an ailing career, Malcolm Craig
The characters in St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose cycle are at once caricatures and possessed of extraordinary emotional depth. In Lost For Words - a satire of a literary prize closely resembling the Booker - they lean far more towards the caricature, although some members of the large cast are granted real personality. And a dash of angst.

Essentially, this is a specimen of the English Comic Novel, with its fair share of farcical situations, silly names, allusions to news old and, er, new, and a few
(3.5) A buoyant, if slight, literary farce. The send-up of the 2011 Booker Prize race* may be a bit obvious, and some of the characters are rather thin, but I found the literary pastiches (especially of paint-by-numbers thrillers, Hilary Mantel-esque historical fiction, Irvine Welsh and Slavoj Žižek – Didier was my favorite character) absolutely hilarious. And who wouldn’t love that ending, as the whole competition descends into absurdity and (view spoiler) takes the n ...more
Apr 30, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-read-soon
Here's a guy I've never read and whom I actually have zero partially formed snobbish opinions about.

And here's what Flavorwire says about this one:

Edward St. Aubyn, Saint of Bitingly Funny, Dark as Fuck, and Gritty English Realism, we know how herculean a task it is to try and get readers talking about anything other than your perfect Patrick Melrose books. Thankfully, with Lost for Words, you move on from deplorable English aristocracy to an even madder group of people: writers.

Dang. Give me
Diane S ☔
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
A satirical and ironic telling of the back door dealings present during and leading up to the presenting of a prestigious award. Although for the sake of the novel it is named differently, it is said that this parody of sorts is about the Booker Award.
The maneuvering, the picking of the judges, each who have a book they want to make it into the short list. One judge doesn't even bother to read the top twenty. The authors themselves, pushing their books to make the long list. Really rather intere
Sam Quixote
Edward St Aubyn’s Lost for Words is a weak satire on literary prizes, in particular the Booker Prize and the 2011 judging panel. Headed by former MI5 head turned novelist Stella Rimington, the 2011 panel chose to focus on accessible books for the public to enjoy - because, y’know, reading can be enjoyable - rather than pretentiously written books, which usually take home the prize.

This angered the literati, not least because they have no clue how to write a compelling story, and the prize becam
Non straordinario come i “Melrose”, ma molto gradevole, divertente, perfino irridente e di un'ironia aspra (se avessi il programma Ghost Gold, come una delle scrittrici qui ritratte, avrei forse trovato un sinonimo più originale, bof), una satira del un mondo letterario dei nostri giorni, fatto di autori, editor, agenti letterari e premi. Sempre molto bravo, St. Aubyn, a sfornare carrellate di personaggi un po' fuori le righe, strambi, o forse solo eccentrici come i migliori inglesi sanno essere ...more
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Maybe 3.5?

This was a very quick, fun read, but I'm still not sure exactly what I read. Well, I know I was reading a satire, but there were parts that I was sure were serious; I was just never exactly sure. Most of it was pure farce, but there's a point when farce can lose its point because it's just so over-the-top. For instance, the book contained 'extracts' from the short-listed books in the (fictional) Elysian prize (apparently a send-up of the Booker) which were so over-the-top silly and re
Jul 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, book-club
The committee for the Elysium Prize (a thinly-disguised stand-in for the Man Booker Prize) sets out to create the long list of novels for the prize, followed by the short list. A giant clusterfuck follows.

That's really about the size of the plot, such as it is; unfortunately, "giant clusterfuck" is a pretty good description of Edward St. Aubyn's latest novel. A satire that isn't especially funny is usually pretty dispiriting, and this satire rarely comes close to being mildly amusing, much less
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Lost for Words by Edward St. Aubyn is a clever, well-written novel about a committee chosen to award a prestigious literary prize. The book narrates the absurd politics behind the scenes and skewers many other professions (but especially literary ones) in the process. There is also a love story, of sorts. Katherine is a girl who can't commit and specializes in breaking hearts. The question is, Will she find love by the end of this story?

My problem, and I do mean my personal problem is that I end
Умеренно едкая сатира о мире писателей, читателей, книгоиздателей и больших литературных призов; ничего особенно выдающегося, но главная функция выполнена на отлично: книга развлекает и с легкостью читается за пару часов. Этакий Дэвид Лодж-лайт.
Stephanie Sun
This book didn't teach me how to write a great satire, which had been the hope that shot it to the top of my reading queue a few days ago.

It did, on the other hand, remind me why I love not just books but the people who make them.

Along with the too-breezy farce and missed opportunities for acid takedown of literary pomposity and pomp that disappointed many professional reviewers, Lost for Words offers up some of the most sincere and thought-provoking inquiry into the question—Why Literature?—th
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
The title of Edward St. Aubyn's new book "Lost for Words" is aptly chosen for this extremely funny, ironic parody of the Man Booker prize for literature. They are not, however, words that could ever apply to its author. St. Aubyn is best known for the Melrose novels, two of which, "Mother's Milk" and "At Last", were shortlisted for the Booker. St. Aubyn's dry wit and perfect sentences like, "Her openness to infidelity filled him with an optimism that her choice of indemnity discouraged", make me ...more
Loes Dissel
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
A funny and biting satire on literary prizes. Witty and very entertaining.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblioteca-mlol, uk
Si chiama crudele ironia, come la mia dipendenza dal tuo aiuto.
Kseniya Melnik
I gobbled this up in a day. As a writer, from time to time I find myself craving one of three types of writing-related books: a book of author interviews or profiles (latest discovery was John Reed's "How to Read a Novelist); a writing companion book that is comforting but honest, and full of wise advice on craft and the writing life (latest favorite was "Still Writing" by Dani Shapiro), or a novel about writers and/or the literary world. The latter--the funnier, the better.
Linda Robinson
May 19, 2014 marked it as will-not-finish
A recurring discussion with friends is the tendency in films, in writing to look out the corner of an eye at a cultural meme that we could do without anyway. Including a wink*wink in a scene that clearly says "yeah, we know this is sexist, but doesn't the fact that we know we know get us a pass? And isn't that hil-ar-i-ous!" No it's not. St. Aubyn is skewering the Man Booker Prize, which is already cheeky and feels too personal. The Prize deserves a poke from anyone with a reading brain, but put ...more
May 30, 2014 marked it as wish-list
Description: Intertwining the stories of several writers as they compete ever more viciously to win their laurels, Lost For Words is a wonderful send up of literary prizes that nearly every writer who has run the gamut of prize competitions will identify with. Complete with an accidental entry, a scandal involving a judge and a vengeful reject, St. Aubyn’s novel nails his anti-heroes right where they’re most sensitive: in the giant, swelling balloons of their literary egos. And here we thought t ...more
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die sehr amüsante Erzählung über die Verleihung eines immens wichtigen Buchpreises in Großbritannien. Vorgestellt werden die Mitglieder der Jury und ihr verbissenes Ringen um ihren Favoriten, wobei die eingereichten Romane vom Typ Schmutzschmonzette über literarische Selbstfindung bis hin zu einem Kochbuch geht, das zwar versehentlich eingereicht wurde, aber von den Damen und Herren Literaturexperten zum Roman schlechthin stilisiert wird. Zumindest von einigen.

Nachdem beim Deutschen Buchpreis mi
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, uk
cambiando radicalmente genere rispetto ai melrose, st aubyn si misura con il romanzo satirico e si fa beffe del mondo dei premi letterari. nel mirino dell'autore finisce il prestigioso man book award- cui l'elysian prize è il calco fedele- e la giuria incaricata di selezionare i testi e assegnare il riconoscimento è impietosamente descritta in un libro pungente che mette alla berlina e non salva davvero nessuno dei personaggi (né gli autori, né i giurati, né le persone che ruotano intorno a loro ...more
Rhiannon Johnson
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
The intellectual delegation for awarding the Elysian Prize is funny and oh so shady! The candidates are bed-hopping. The submissions are mistakenly admitted and excluded. One character (who believes he should be a candidate, despite publishing his novel privately in India) is the six hundred and fifty-third maharaja of Badanpur. The messy personal lives of the judges, candidates, and secondary characters all intertwine and the snobby, caustic remarks alone are worth reading this book. A very imp ...more
May 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a thinly disguised skewering of the Man Booker Prize and all the shenanigans, neuroses, scheming and political maneuverings that occurs behind the scenes. There are lots of articles on the internet, if you choose to search for them, about the author's possible motives in writing this book (St. Aubyn was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2006 and bypassed in 2011) and who the characters in the book are really supposed to be - it makes for interesting reading. Actually, more interes ...more
Steve Turtell
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Imagine that one of the greatest living English novelists decided to write an entertainment, a "beach novel"--something fast, and light, and witty and far removed from the terrifying, brilliant and disturbing novels that brought him great fame--and the result would be Lost for Words. This is a refreshing change of pace--but fortunately not of style--for St. Aubyn. He writes the same astonishing prose, and moves effortlessly from profound psychological observation to hilarious social comedy and b ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite different from my usual audiobook fare and yet a very pleasant surprise. Absolutely terrific, rollicking satire of the literary world as a bunch of terrifically amusing literati types deal with selecting a winning book for the Elysian Prize. At first I thought maybe this was something that ought to be read properly, but the audiobook reader did such an awesome job (voices, accents and all), I'm glad I listened to it. It's the sort of thing that has one laughing out loud while walk ...more
May 01, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a fun book! Edward St. Aubyn really has a way of writing that is quick-witted, clever, and there is always a very vague sense of sarcasm underlying everything. He loves to write about the weaknesses of human character and the characters in his book are so slightly despicable you kind of end up feeling like a better person yourself after reading his books. I wouldn't recommend this book if you haven't read anything by him (instead read his Melrose series), but if you are a fan you won't ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sheer delight. A virtuoso send up of the literary world- specifically the awarding of the Man Booker prize. St. Aubyn was a finalist several years ago and did not win. Some have called this book sour grapes, but if this is true these grapes are exquisitely tart and flavorful. They produce an absolutely hilarious read for anyone who is obsessed, as I am, with the simultaneous absurdity and necessity of our ambition to experience meaning and beauty.
Mientras Leo
Muy divertido, bien escrito pero no brillante.
Jul 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Het boek draait om de uitreiking van een literaire prijs, en is meteen ook een satire op literaire prijzen: organisatoren, juryleden en de auteurs die manuscripten inzenden. Maar daarnaast is het ook een satire op de literaire wereld en literatuurwetenschappers in het algemeen. En zelfs de doorsnee-lezer, die de laatste jaren liever kookboeken aanschaft dan romans, krijgt hierover een kleine vermaning.

Helaas geen (geslaagde) satire
Dit boek bezorgt de lezer geen nieuwe inzichten. Alles waar o
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Edward St Aubyn was born in London in 1960. He was educated at Westminster school and Keble college, Oxford University. He is the author of six novels, the most recent of which, ‘Mother’s Milk’, was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, won the 2007 Prix Femina Etranger and won the 2007 South Bank Show award on literature.

His first novel, ‘Never Mind’ (1992) won the Betty Trask award. This no
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“We are entering the Dark Ages, my friend, but this time there will be lots of neon, and screen savers, and street lighting.” 11 likes
“The measure of a work of art is how much art it has in it, not how much ‘relevance’. Relevant to whom? Relevant to what? Nothing is more ephemeral than a hot topic.” 10 likes
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