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From lad-lit to lit

Despite Nick Hornby's popularity in Britain and credibility in America, serious critical appreciation of his literature of self-doubt is still overdue

By Jonathan Heawood   January 2006

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (Viking, £17.99)

Nick Hornby is his real name. But it is also an ideal nom de plume for a writer who wants to evoke the 1970s world of fathers, sons and train sets. Perhaps it is this accidental everyman quality that has prevented Hornby’s books from attracting serious critical attention. Selling millions of copies hasn’t helped, either.

Now that his most recent novel has been shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, Hornby is having to suffer being reassessed as a literary author. Does his acceptance into the literary culture mark the passing of lad…

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