Friday, October 12, 2007

Congratulations to British author Doris Lessing!

Yesterday, the Swedish Academy announced her award: The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2007 . She was sited as "that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."

I am not sure exaclty what all those words mean, but I do agree with the things about her skepticism and fire. This is a woman who has had an incredible life and career. It is worth a trip to the Doris Lessing site just to read her bio.

My first memory of her is from my college years; staying up half the night to finish The Golden Notebook . The Golden Notebook and Marilyn French's The Women's Room were practically required reading for young women of my generation. Unfortunately, neither of these books are currently in eBook format. But I digress. . .

The reason I am so delighted about ther winning the price is related to the story of the Jane Somers caper.

The short version is that in the eighties she wrote two books under the pseudonym, Jane Somers. Her long time publisher actually rejected them! She finally found a publisher (Knopf). The books were published and largely ignored by both the critics and the buying public. Bascially, they tanked.

She later exposed the hoax and said that she was trying to prove a point about the difficulty new authors have finding a publisher. She told the New York Times that ''I wanted to highlight that whole dreadful process in book publishing that 'nothing succeeds like success.' If the books had come out in my name, they would have sold a lot of copies and reviewers would have said, 'Oh, Doris Lessing, how wonderful.'"

That story makes her a star in book in spite of the fact that I sometimes find her writing to be a little hard to read. She will always have a special place in my library (and in my heart).

Check out her latest book – The Cleft.

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