A Minor Grouse

Grumping about litblogs is insidery and boring, I know, but there’s a line in a Galleycat post yesterday that’s been annoying me ever since I read it. On Monday Ron Hogan posted a perfectly nice item about some of the more popular galleys at Book Expo America, among them Robert Bolaño‘s 2666 and Amitav Ghosh‘s A Sea of Poppies. Harcourt apparently moved a lot of copies of Padma Viswanathan‘s The Toss of a Lemon, prompting this parenthetical statement from Hogan:

America’s book reviewers being what they are, expect a dozen explanations of how the author isn’t that Viswanathan come September.

Hogan’s frustrations with newspaper book reviewers are well documented, but this is an odd little swipe. Why on earth would it be a bad thing—or even a thing that reveals the mediocrity of newspaper book reviewing—to clarify that Padma Viswanathan isn’t Kaavya Viswanathan, a disgraced author? Journalists make these clarifications all the time with recognized last names. If somebody named Billy Bob Updike writes a novel, I’d note that the author isn’t related to John, and I’m sure Hogan would do it too. After all, he did recognize that some of his readers wouldn’t have instant recall on Kaavya’s name and might be confused. And I’m sure he’s not alone: Litbloggers being what they are, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of links to stories about the Kaavya scandal once The Toss of a Lemon comes out…