Market forces (again)

Posted by Ken Edwards on Thursday, October 18, 2012 Under: writing
So Hilary Mantel has won the Booker for a second time with, run this past me again, the sequel to a historical romance that won the prize three years ago? I don't want to be curmudgeonly about a writer I haven't read - people have told me with some enthusiasm her early stuff is a little bit weird and quirky - but even a leader writer at The Guardian (normally a champion of the literary establishment and earlier this week quoting solemnly Sir Peter Stothard's embarrassing assessment that Mantel is "the greatest modern English prose writer") spoke of "posh historical fiction: Georgette Heyer goes Waitrose." 

That was in praise of Will Self. Or it might have been intended as a satirical parody of Will Self. Who knows?

Much has been made of the unusually high representation of small presses among this year's Booker long- and short-list. In which regard, congratulations to the High Wycombe-based And Other Stories for publishing Deborah Levy's shortlisted Swimming Home. But it's worth pointing out that Levy is no avant-garde newcomer but has a long history of publication by mainstream presses, including Cape. Her new novel was rejected by everyone except And Other Stories. And guess what? Now that it's found success, Faber has moved in as co-publisher and will presumably cream off some of the profits.

I wish I could congratulate Salt Publishing on also achieving shortlist status (for Alison Moore's The Lighthouse), but it kind of sticks in my craw when I see this. Which sums up what this once small press, self-proclaimed publisher of cutting-edge, innovative, blah, poetry has come to. (And apologies to Alison Moore, another writer I haven't read.)

I was going to spend the rest of this afternoon working on some writing, but perhaps I'd better get down to some market research instead. Excuse me.

In : writing 

Tags: "man booker prize" 
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Ken Edwards This blog is written by Ken Edwards, co-founder and editor/publisher of Reality Street, and it's mainly about the press. Ken's personal blog can now be found at