Today the National Book Critics Circle announced its book award finalists for the publishing year of 2012. Among the nominees for the best book of Criticism is Waiting for the Barbarians by Daniel Mendelsohn.
In this acclaimed collection, Mendelsohn brings together twenty-four of his recent essays on a wide range of subjects, from Avatar to the poems of Arthur Rimbaud and from the Titanic to Susan Sontag’s Journals.
Trained as a classicist, Mendelsohn moves easily from penetrating considerations of the ways in which the classics continue to make themselves felt in contemporary life and letters (Greek myth in the Spider-Man musical, Anne Carson’s translations of Sappho) to trenchant takes on pop spectacles—none more explosively controversial than his dissection of Mad Men.
“Our most irresistible literary critic…Much of the fun of reading Mendelsohn is his sense of play, his irreverence and unpredictability, his frank emotional responses…He forces the [essay] form in directions Francis Bacon never imagined.” —The New York Times Book Review
“a scrumptious stylist…He writes better movie criticism than most movie critics, better theatre criticism than most theatre critics and better literary criticism than just about anyone…practically every sentence of this book [is] an eye-opener.” —The Observer (UK)
“Mendelsohn’s work is absolutely vital in both senses of the word—it breaths with an exciting intelligence often absent in similar but stodgier writing, and it should be required reading for anyone interested in dissecting culture” —The Daily Beast