Thursday, October 25, 2007

Famous work originally rejected 15 times


OK, I am on a rejection kick, I guess. In David Oshinsky's September 9, 2007 NY Times column, an article appeared about a scholar who researched correspondence of the Alfred Knopf Publishing Company (now owned by Random House). Can you guess what book (eventually published and hugely successful) received these comments described in the rejection letter?

In the summer of 1950, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. turned down the English-language rights to a Dutch manuscript after receiving a particularly harsh reader’s report. The work was “very dull,” the reader insisted, “a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions.” Sales would be small because the main characters were neither familiar to Americans nor especially appealing. “Even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject was timely,” the reader wrote, “I don’t see that there would have been a chance for it.”