In June 2019, the UK freelancer George Berridge wrote an unenthusiastic review of Willem Anker’s Red Dog, which two weeks ago was named as one of the 12 books on the long list of the International Booker Prize. He raised questions about possible plagiarism of works by Cormac McCarthy and Samuel Beckett; in December Vrye Weekblad’s books columnist Deborah Steinmair asked why nobody had responded in the six months since.

Her article unleashed a storm of retribution. In a rush defence befitting a rugby match academics phoned to lecture her and the digital comments mostly chastised her for spreading rumour and jeopardising a young writer’s career. In what was more a leaping defence two fellow authors actually bolstered the case against Anker...

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