Cultural Illiteracy Found In Strangest Of Places

by | Jan 4, 2006

According to this report, The Sunday Times of London, sent two typed manuscripts to 20-plus publishers and literary agents to test a hypothesis, namely that the publsihing industry has become incapable of spotting genuine literary talent.

The manuscripts were the opening chapters of novels that won Booker Prizes in the 1970’s. One was Holiday, by Stanley Middleton; the other was In a Free State, by Sir V. S. Naipaul, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature. But the “experts” did not know what they were reading. In all but one case, rejection letters were sent out.

Doris Lessing, the author who was once rejected by her own publishers when she submitted a novel under a pseudonym, said: “I’m astounded as Naipaul is an absolutely, wonderful writer.”