Sean Penn Pokes Fun at His Panned Novel With Full-Page Ad in New York Times

The actor highlights the worst reviews of his debut novel, 'Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.'
Courtesy of Atria Books

Sean Penn is not usually known for his sense of humor, but the actor is now poking fun at the negative reviews for his first novel, Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff.

The Oscar-winner’s publisher, Atria Books, ran a full-page ad in The New York Times and The Washington Post under the banner “The Critics Agree.” The joke is that the critics agree the novel is terrible and the ad quotes some of the harshest lines ("Honestly, shut your face, Sean Penn”).

The ad isn’t just self-deprecating humor, Atria is trying to make the point, as it noted in a press release about the ad, “The extreme division between many (not all) of the book critics and the rest of the literary intelligentsia points to a larger question of whether a public figure of Penn's status is given a fair shake when he attempts to expand his artistic profile. It also points to the growing culture of decisiveness that has seemed to have sprung up, especially recently, in a divided nation.”

The ad ends with a list of prominent people (Salman Rushdie, Sarah Silverman, Bill Maher) who liked the book and a link to positive comments. It also notes that the book, released March 27, was an “instant bestseller” and challenges readers to “decide for yourself.”

Well played, Atria and Mr. Penn.