Culture 29 July 2010 Leading academic condemns British novelists Amis, McEwan and Rushdie are like "prep school boys showing off". Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Gabriel Josipovici, a former Weidenfeld Professor of Comparative Literature at Oxford University, has issued a strong criticism of Britain's most prominent living authors. Speaking to the Guardian, Josipovici said that the contemporary British novel was "profoundly disappointing -- a poor relation of its groundbreaking modernist forebears". He continued: Reading [Julian] Barnes, like reading so many other English writers of his generation -- Martin Amis, [Ian] McEwan -- leaves me feeling that I and the world have been made smaller and meaner. The irony which at first made one smile, the precision of language which was at first so satisfying, the cynicism which at first was used only to puncture pretension, in the end come to seem like a terrible constriction, a fear of opening oneself up to the world. Referring to graduates of the University of East Anglia's celebrated creative writing course (whose number includes McEwan), he said: They all tell stories in a way that is well crafted, but that is almost the most depressing aspect of it -- a careful craft which seems to me to be hollow. Josipovici suggested that the problem was worse in Britain than elsewhere, but also criticised the American novelist Philip Roth. For all Roth's playfulness -- a heavy-handed playfulness at the best of times -- he never doubts the validity of what he is doing or his ability to find a language adequate to his needs. As a result, his works may be funny, they may be thought-provoking, but only as good journalism can be funny and thought-provoking. Josipovici's criticisms will feature in a forthcoming book, What Ever Happened to Modernism? › In the Critics this week Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles How Wilson "Wicked" Pickett was his own worst enemy The hidden history of Catholics in Britain From white trash to the whitelash: what do white people want?