While this year's Orange Prize long-list hosts a scatter of well-known names – from Toni Morrison to Kamila Shamsie – it also spotlights intriguing newcomers. Ann Weisgarber's novel of a black family in the 1910s who leave Chicago for a harsh farming life in the "Badlands", The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, comes from Macmillan's controversial New Writing imprint. Founded by Michael Bernard in 2006, MNW deals directly with authors rather than agents, offers debut novelists no advances, demands first refusal of a second book – but does deliver high royalties on sales of its handsome hardback editions. In spite of much initial scepticism, most writers who have signed up to the MNW terms sound happy with their treatment, and the stable – as Weisgarber shows – competes with ever-more success against traditional imprints. With so few literary-fiction lists now open to new blood, it can only thrive.It's good to see a bit of publicity for the imprint--thanks for raising our profile, Ann!--but is MNW really still "controversial"? "Demands refusal" is a bit strong, too: is anyone really going to be disappointed if MNW wants to publish one of their books?
But isn't it good to see a positive piece on MNW after all the "Ryanair of publishing" crap?