NB by J.C.

James Campbell


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Carcanet Press Ltd
8 December 2022
ISBN: 9781800172883
396 pages

From the publisher

The NB column in the Times Literary Supplement, signed at the foot by J.C., occupied the back page of the paper for thirteen years. For a decade before that, it was in the middle pages. That's roughly 60,000 words a year for twenty-three years. The purpose of the initials was not to disguise the author, but to offer complete freedom to the persona. J.C. was irreverent and whimsical. The column punctured pomposity, hypocrisy and cant in the literary world - as one correspondent put it: 'skewering contemporary absurdities, whether those resulting from identity politics or from academic jargon'. Readers came to expect reports from the Basement Labyrinth, where all executive decisions are made, and where annual literary prizes were judged and administered. These included the Most Unoriginal Title Prize - for a new book bearing a title that had been used by several other authors (eg, The Kindness of Strangers); the Incomprehensibility Prize, for impenetrable academic writing; the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal, and the All Must Have Prizes Prize, for authors who have never won anything. Readers of NB by J.C. will find an off-beat guide to our cultural times. The book begins in 2001 and proceeds to 2020. The substantial Introduction offers a history of the TLS itself from birth through the precarious stages of its adaptation and survival.