In an essay in Salon Sarah Schulman says, "In 1999, I completed a novel called The Child. I had published seven novels and two nonfiction books between 1984 and 1998 with excited, positive reviews, translations, awards, and all the signs of success. But suddenly I could not get anyone to take this book.... Why was this book suddenly so unacceptable? There are people who believe that we live in a merit-based publishing environment. According to them, the reason I could not find a publisher was because The Child is less deserving than every novel that has been published in the last eight years, and, therefore, it objectively deserved to remain unavailable to readers. [Full disclosure: Huh? Is she saying some people believe thre is one person who controls all of publishing, like God, and weighs up every novel and its merits?] "The Child is about a romantic, sexual relationship between 15-year-old Stew and 40-year-old David. ... The relationship between Stew and David was intertwined with the story of a lesbian lawyer, her lover, and her legal partner. I have written widely about the ways and reasons that lesbian literature is disrespected in America, and I do not have the opportunity to fully replicate that information here."
I can think of a lot of reasons this book could have been rejected:
- Editors weren't comfortable with a relationship where one of the main characters verges on a pedophile and relationship is portrayed sympathetically.
- Editors thought there was a limited market for the book.
- Maybe it wasn't well written.
I just don't buy it. If an editor thinks a book will make money, they will publish it. No one has a right to be published, and I don't see that this is a sign that we live in troubling times.