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Which Lit Scene Is More Stuck Up?

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"The freak thing about Britain is that it’s a monoculture, so that if some of the country takes on an author, the whole country does. Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson … they sell in phenomenal numbers. They become mascots."
Bill Buford, author

"England’s a trashy culture. The best-seller lists are dominated by cookbooks. You’re either a huge literary hit or you’re really lowbrow. It’s hard for writers who are neither massive nor trashy."
Nicole Aragi, agent

"We do have an absurd celebrity culture where stars sell shitloads. It’s completely out of control."
Nick Hornby, author

"The British literary scene tends to be more openly alcoholic. London book launches are more drunken and sexually active than New York ones."
Jonathan Burnham, editor

"Some editors dread going out at lunchtime with older writers because of what they’ll be expected to get through in the course of two or three hours, which renders the rest of the afternoon impossible."
Hornby

"There is none of the scrupulous attention to avoiding someone’s ex-girlfriend reviewing his new novel. In fact, in London, it’s kind of the opposite: The ex-girlfriend will volunteer, and the editor will say okay, just for the hell of it."
Burnham

"The English have a reputation for being so decorous, but in print they’re much nastier and more comfortable making a quip about your hairstyle."
Lionel Shriver, author

"And the editorial process in London isn’t as careful. A very harried acquiring editor will give a book a quick read over the weekend, make a couple of changes, and put it to press." —Burnham

"It’s harder for a newcomer to get in here, and easier once you are in."
Shriver


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