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Chapter 11 - The Literary Marketplace and the Rise of Neoliberalism

from Part II - Contemporary Critical Perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2022

Paul Crosthwaite
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Peter Knight
Affiliation:
University of Manchester
Nicky Marsh
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

Since the 1960s, structural shifts in the publishing industry and the wider economy – commonly denoted by the term “neoliberal” – have expanded and intensified the commercial pressures on the literary field. This chapter’s first section identifies the specific forms that neoliberalism has taken in the world of publishing and bookselling. The second section examines how recent novels by Kate Zambreno, Eugene Lim, and Jordy Rosenberg self-consciously negotiate the publishing industry’s simultaneous yet conflicting demands for novelty and familiarity, especially as they relate to expectations surrounding representations of femininity, race, ethnicity, and trans identity. The concluding section reads recent fiction by Helen DeWitt and Rachel Cusk as meditations on how, rather than simply decrying, or capitulating to, the growing power of literary marketing and promotion, the “serious” contemporary writer might – at least in principle – utilize that power precisely in order to stimulate consumer appetite for seriousness as a desirable literary quality.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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