Friday, January 06, 2006
Naipaul's 'disguised' book rejected by Agents/Publishers
I first read it in Kitabkhana, and it amused me no end.
You take a famous manuscript (book) by a famous writer and send it out to agents/publishers with an unknown name for their kind consideration. Chances are they will not only not recognize the content (even Booker prize-winning content!), they will even reject it with complete professional sanity. It was done before with perhaps a Thackery or Dickens novel. I don't remember exactly. The Sunday Times has done it again like a sting operation:
Top novels in disguise rejected by publishers
THERE is no greater award for a writer than the Nobel prize for literature. Five years ago the accolade went to VS Naipaul in recognition of his 50-year writing career.
Naipaul, born in Trinidad, also won the 1971 Booker prize (now the Man Booker) in Britain, where he has lived since 1950. It was awarded for In a Free State, his novel about displaced colonials on different continents.
Dennis Potter, the TV dramatist, praised its “lucid complexity”. He wrote: “Do not miss the exhilaration of catching one of our most accomplished writers reaching towards the full stretch of his talent.”
Surely the special qualities of such timeless prose would be recognised by today’s publishing industry? Surely a first-time novelist who matched the standard of Naipaul at his best would be snapped up?
The Sunday Times sent out the opening chapter of In a Free State to 20 agents and publishers to find out. Only the names of the author and main characters were changed.
None of the agents or publishers spotted the book’s true pedigree. And instead of experiencing Potter’s exhilaration, they all sent back polite rejections.