Deborah Levy’s small press route to Booker shortlist
The BBC reports on Deborah Levy’s route to the Man Booker shortlist for 2012. Levy’s book, Swimming Home, is one of three books on the list that come from small publishers. Swimming Home was published by And Other Stories from that publishing mecca, High Wycombe.
The great irony of Levy’s Booker shortlist selection is that Faber & Faber – one of the publishers who originally rejected the novel – are now partnering with And Other Stories to ensure demand is met. That must have been an interesting meeting.
Levy’s previous books include Beautiful Mutants and Swallowing Geography (both published by Jonathan Cape) and Billy and the Girl (Bloomsbury). Despite this track record, her new book was rejected by mainstream publishers when it was sent out by her agent at the end of 2008.
“It was just as the recession hit Britain,” Levy says. “Publishers admired my book but were concerned it might not prosper in the tough economy and they made their decision. It was declined and I was devastated.”
At about the same time a publishing house, And Other Stories, was being founded by literary translator Stefan Tobler, with the aim of supporting “mind-blowing” contemporary fiction. The not-for-profit company has Arts Council funding, but its core income is from the contributions of its “subscribers”, who pay between £20 and £50 up front on an annual basis.