Nov 30 2014

Michael Eskin Cofounder and Publisher Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc.

Published by at 5:37 pm under Uncategorized

How Writing a Novel Can Get You Fired … in London A Publisher’s Field Notes

Do you remember what happened to Marzieh Rasouli? Or to Osip Mandel’shtam and Joseph Brodsky? Let me remind you: Rasouli, a journalist, was recently sentenced to fifty lashes and two years in prison for allegedly “spreading propaganda against the system,” Mandel’stham was sent to the Gulag for writing poetry, and Brodsky was incarcerated and exiled for social parasitism. Yes, these things do happen, we know only too well – in places like Iran and Russia – but certainly not in our very midst, or do they? You be the judge.
We recently published the debut novel of London-based author Stephen Grant, A Moment More Sublime. Inspired by real-life events (which novel isn’t?) involving Richmond upon Thames College, London, where the author has, until recently, taught philosophy and been an elected representative of the University and Colleges Union, A Moment More Sublime is the fictional story of a London-based philosophy teacher, who finds himself unexpectedly embroiled in his union’s struggle against a corrupt school administration and its plans to cut jobs under the pretense of modernization and fiscal austerity, just as he and his partner are getting ready to buy a home and start a family …
No sooner had the novel been published than the author found himself caught up in the maelstrom of a totalitarian nightmare: his employer immediately initiated disciplinary proceedings against him, ostensibly, with a view to summarily dismissing him for “Gross Misconduct,” which allegedly consisted in “failing to obtain appropriate permission in relation to the publication … before entering into any agreement with the publisher,” breaching the “legal limits” of “the right to ‘express one’s opinion’,” and, more generally, not “abid[ing] by common law” in writing and publishing a novel that presumably brings Richmond upon Thames College “into disrepute.”
During one of the “Investigative Meetings” conducted by officer Yvonne G., the college’s head of HR, our author was asked: “… would you say … that the reason you did not seek permission prior to the publication of the book was because you knew if you had you would not have received the College’s permission?”

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