Rotten Rejections: Jerzy Kosinski

“In 1969 Steps, a novel by Jerzy Kosinski, won the National Book Award. Six years later a freelance writer named Chuck Ross, to test the old theory that a novel by an unknown author doesn’t have a chance, typed the first twenty-one pages of Steps and sent them out to four publishers as the work of “Erik Demos.” All four rejected the manuscript. Two years after that he typed out the whole book an sent it, again credited to Erik Demos, to more publishers, including the original publisher of the Kosinski book, Random House. Again, all rejected it with unhelpful comments–Random House used a form letter. Altogether, fourteen publishers (and thirteen literary agents) failed to recognize a book that had already been published and had won an important prize.”

Excerpted from: Bernard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

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