Fifty Shades of Grey is an erotic novel which was published in 2011 and authored by E.L. James. The novel is the first part of a trilogy that explores the relationship between a girl named Anastasia Steele and a successful businessman named Christian Grey. The novel is renowned for its highly explicit depicting of BDSM, or Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission Sadism and Masochism.
The critical reception of Fifty Shades of Grey has been mixed even though in the UK it broke the records of Amazon by overtaking Harry Potter series as the most sold novel. In fact, some critics have completely panned the book citing poor quality of literary work. April Alliston, a professor at Princeton, said that the book was not a masterpiece; rather it was a parasitic fan fiction that was based on the Twilight series. Entertainment Weekly, on the other hand, praised the book and gave it a B+ rating. The Guardian’s Jenny Colgan praised the book for being quite readable and more enjoyable and entertaining compared to other erotic books available in the market. The Telegraph gave the book a negative review, citing that it was clichéd, but gave in to the fact that the sexual content of the book would keep female readers occupied for many years together. A reviewer for the Ledger Enquirer claimed that Fifty Shades of Grey offer fun, albeit guiltily, and was way to escape, but it also covered another topic that of female submission. The New Zealand Herald also was severe on the book saying that it could never win a prize for its prose and the book contained some horrible descriptions. At the same time, the review also claimed that Fifty Shades of Grey was easy to read and some readers would enjoy the book if they overcame their urge to slap the female protagonist for having hardly any self-respect.
The Columbus Dispatch gave the book a mixed review. It said that though the prose was awkward, the writer could still make readers turn pages. The Metro News Canada, however, had a different take on the book. The review said that it was torturous to read a 500-page book of the female protagonist having a dialogue with herself. Chicago Tribune’s Jessica Reeve wrote that the source material for the book was not good, as the book contained many phrases that were repeated over and over again. She also labeled the book as depressing.
The book also has been criticized for using British idioms, which clashes with the female protagonists thoughts and feelings, as she is suppose to be American. The critics felt that this, as a result, makes the dialogue more tedious and strenuous.
With all the mixed reviews, Fifty Shades of Grey won the Book of the Year and Popular Fiction awards in the UK National Book Awards in December 2012 and Publishers Weekly named the author as the Publishing Person of the Year. Publishers Weekly decision was panned by the literary world, who were shocked at the decision.