Last week, the National Book Critics Circle awarded “A Visit From the Goon Squad” by novelist Jennifer Egan its highly-touted prize for fiction. It was a huge honor for Egan’s work, but you really wouldn’t know it from glancing at the LA Times’ website. Alongside its writeup of the awards ceremony, the Times chose to run a shot of Jonathan Franzen–who’s novel “Freedom” was arguably the favorite to pick up the award–instead of Egan.
Times readers weren’t having it.
“Seriously? Seriously???,” one wrote. “The news is that literary darling Jonathan Franzen LOST an award, not that (talented but less well-known female) Jennifer Egan WON? Please spend a couple of minutes gazing into your editorial navels today and ask yourselves what happened.”
Reader representative Deirdre Edgar did some digging and this was the explanation she came up with for the photo flap:
Online photo editor Jerome Adamstein gave a possible reason for the use of the Franzen photo, which was taken by a Times photographer in September. There were no Times photos of Egan. And, he said, “AP has a single posed portrait from 2006 that was publisher-supplied.” There was nothing more current available.
However, Adamstein conceded, “It is odd not to see the winner, even if it’s an older image.”
If the Times had a reporter at the event, it seems a little odd they couldn’t snap a current photo. Anyway, the stodgy old 2006 AP photo, which really isn’t all that bad, has since replaced Franzen’s.