J.K. Rowling’s New Novel Reveals What She Really Thinks of the Publishing Industry And it isn’t pretty
From The New Republic:
In The Silkworm,the disappearance of Owen Quine, an eccentric, third-rate writer, unearths the bizarre underworld of the publishing industry. In both novels, solving the murder involves a kind of anthropological investigation of the characters and practices that comprise each subculture. It’s cultural commentary through genre fiction, and since Rowling is one of the most famous and successful writers of our time, it’s hard not to feel like we’re getting the inside scoop.
So what does Rowling really think of the literati?
The line-up of murder suspects gives us a few hints: a boozy editor; a powerful though closeted publisher who retreats to the countryside to paint naked youths; a jealous literary agent whose own writing is “deplorably derivative”; a much-revered but pompous and sexist novelist; a writer of “bloody awful erotic fantasy”; and the victim’s wife, who ignores his books until they have “proper covers.” Then there’s Owen Quine himself, a middle-aged writer riding out his career on a novel published years before—the only decent work of literature he’s produced. Quine is so desperate for adulation that he habitually persuades his mistress to mock-interview him. Even his disappearance is initially disregarded as a publicity stunt to garner attention for his latest manuscript—a thinly disguised exposé of the above figures.
. . . .
It’s [a world] of ego-maniacs. And the writers, or would-be writers, are the worst of the batch. When the amateur author of erotica describes her work to Strike in rehearsed phrases and sound bites, he wonders how many people “who sat alone for hours as they scribbled their stories practiced talking about their work during their coffee breaks.” (One wonders: Did—or does—Rowling do this?) Meanwhile, Quine’s agent describes him “as a bigger glutton for praise than any author I’ve ever met, and they are most of them insatiable.” Of course, this agent, a wannabe writer with a first in English from Oxford but no novels to her name, turns out to be pretty insatiable herself.
There’s more than just caricature in Rowling’s submerged criticism. Her reproach of Internet trolls is downright vitriolic: “Hard to remember these days that there was a time when you had to wait for ink and paper reviews to see your work excoriated. With the invention of the Internet, any subliterate cretin can be Michiko Kakutani.” Or the exclamation vis-à-vis online publishing: “The dross the Internet has given us!”
Link to the rest at The New Republic and thanks to Meryl for the tip.