Saturday 31 January 2009

Bestseller – so, the news is out. . .

From today’s The Guardian:

‘A publisher of literary fiction has just been outed as the author of a satire of UK publishing which presents thinly veiled portraits of some of the leading figures in the books world. Speculation about the identity of the author of the optimistically titled Bestseller, about the increasingly deranged attempts of an author to get published, has been rampant in London’s publishing circles, but Alessandro Gallenzi, a poet and founder of the literary publisher Alma Books, has decided to emerge from the closet and claim ownership of the novel. “I read a lot of blogs and I always hate it when the people who come out with the most opinionated things don’t have the guts to put down their own name,” Gallenzi said. He thought it would be cowardly if he didn’t own up.

‘One major character in the book is the troubled, fondly depicted head of “a small but prestigious independent publishing house that had somehow managed to survive - even if in a state of near-continuous bankruptcy – for 30 years in a fragile shell of literary quality despite the crushing advance of the corporate giants”. Gallenzi admits to having a combination of famed literary publisher – and acquirer of Haruki Murakami and Peter Høeg – Christopher MacLehose in mind when sketching out the character, as well as John Calder, the legendary publisher of Samuel Beckett. There’s also a “very recognisable” literary agent (“Style is all very well – but we need to get to the nitty-gritty, y’know: less description, more death, and a bit of bonking. How many copies do you want to sell?”), and guest appearances from a host of literary personalities. “John [Calder] knows I’ve written a book but I haven’t had the guts to show him - we’ll have to have a conversation before I publish,” said Gallenzi. The manuscript is currently doing the rounds of major publishing houses.’

Well, not quite – the manuscript will be sent out in a week or so, after I have another careful read through. No, not for libel. I have spent the last three and a half years working on this book – mostly working at night – and I was secretly amused when rumours started to spread at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair and Scott Pack was forced to deny he had anything to do with the book.

I will be curious to see what my fellow publishers make of it.


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