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What is Your Favorite Novel About Publishing?

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature store looks at former Penguin Canada CEO and publishing star David Davidar’s Ithaca, a roman à clef about the publishing business. Though our reviewer, Vinutha Mallya found the books to be uneven and less-than-revealing, you can’t fault Davidar for one thing: he is, as the old cliche goes, writing about what he knows.

Writers have often been tempted to write about the book business and the publishing world, with mixed results. We’ve had everything from The Devil Wears Prada to James Michener’s The Novel to murder mysteries (too numerous to recall) all set in the publishing world.

So tell us, what is your favorite look at the book business through a writer’s eyes?

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16 Comments

  1. Posted May 16, 2012 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    Hands down: Ben Bova’s Cyberbooks. Yes, it’s a science-fiction satire, but it’s a completely brilliant (and utterly hilarious) one, and amazing how well it manages to predict some of the developments of the last few years.

  2. Posted May 16, 2012 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    Glad to see this post, Ed.

    Your readers can find a few more fictional publishers at http://fictionalpublishers.com/, and suggestions for other titles I’ve missed so far can be left on the website by leaving a comment under “Suggest a Fictional Publisher”.

    Looking forward to hearing.

  3. Arnold
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    “If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller” by Italo Calvino

  4. Posted May 16, 2012 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Not quite publishing, but a brilliant and very funny novel about ‘the creative industries’ (well, newspapers in the 1960s): Michael Frayn’s Towards the end of the morning

  5. Bryony Cosgrove
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Olivia Goldsmith’s ‘Bestseller’

  6. Elisabeth Leigh
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    A writer’s life from a wry, beautifully observed comic perspective: Bury my Heart at W.H.Smith’s by Brian Aldiss, outstanding science fiction author. (1990)

  7. LUIZ
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    HAPPINESS, by Will Fergunsson.

  8. Peggy Hailey
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    The Great Pursuit by Tom Sharpe.

  9. Posted May 16, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Olivia Goldsmith’s Bestseller — if only for the “index” at the back, which lists many publishing luminaries, even when they aren’t really in the book.

    And it’s hilarious!

  10. Posted May 16, 2012 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    “Thieves of Manhattan” by Adam Langer – story about the publishing industry with a James Frey twist. Great book about the industry and one of my favorite books overall.

  11. Posted May 16, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Bridget Jones’s Diary: Helen Fielding’s hilarious bestseller about a junior editor and her struggles with her love life and her various overindulgences (food, cigarettes, alcohol…).

  12. Seda
    Posted May 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The Hoax!

  13. Helena
    Posted May 17, 2012 at 4:05 am | Permalink

    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse.

  14. Rebecca Smart
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Has to be The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. 1958, women in NY publishing. Just brilliant.

  15. Lauren
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I just found ‘China Cuckoo: How I Lost a Fortune and Found a Life In China’ on a shelf last week, about a successful expat publisher in China loses everything after Chinese authorities force him out of business. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but the opening line is great…

  16. Lauren
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    ‘Bestseller’ by Alessandro Gallenzi (founder of of Hesperus Press/Alma Books) is another

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