Many, not all, believe they are destined for that role and because of that, maintain that they are the true keepers of the faith of literary excellence and taste, and their opinions are sacrosanct. They seem to believe, too, that they are therefore qualified to judge the literary merits of their fellow novelists many of whom, ironically, probably harbor similar ambitions. They are, therefore, contenders and there is a good argument for keeping them out of the critical loop of judging other contenders.
A case in point was a recent review in the Times of a novel by John Burnham Schwartz titled Northwest Corner. It is a sequel to Reservation Road an earlier novel by Mr. Schwartz, which became a fairly successful movie. Apparently, it was a novel that gave Mr. Schwartz some heft as a serious novelist. The review was written by Julie Myerson, who Google tells me is a British novelist who also writes non-fiction and has won a number of prizes in Britain.
That said, I have never met Mr. Schwartz and have never read his novels or those of Ms. Myerson. Thus, my judgments are based solely on Ms. Myerson's review of the novel in the Times Book Review, which clearly underlines the wariness that I have cited.
The review by Ms. Myerson is one of the most mean-minded, snide, sanctimonious and dismissive diatribes I have ever read in a book review written by one allegedly serious novelist about another serious work. Worse, I don't understand why the editors of the Times Book Review, which ascribes its own biases to the publication, let it pass.
Full story here.