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Between the lines

Publishing is a gloriously uncertain trade. Bestsellers cannot be manufactured, while low-key titles often achieve success through word of mouth

By Jason Cowley   January 2007

A kind of magic

At the Frankfurt international book fair, Pete Ayrton, who runs the London-based independent publisher Serpent’s Tail, is invariably asked the same question: have you got anything dark and edgy this year? Ayrton has a taste for writing from outside the mainstream, and has published some of the strangest and most challenging books of recent times. Yet this former academic philosopher is not merely a literary extremist: he has a fine eye for new talent (he published Michel Houellebecq’s first novel, Whatever).

His greatest success remains Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, which was…

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