Literary Twins.

Another great footnote from Marina Koreneva’s chapter on “Russian Detective Fiction” in Reading for Entertainment in Contemporary Russia (see this post), in the context of the increasing publicity given to authors’ biographies in the mid-1990s:

The question of the reliability of the information presented by the publishers will not be discussed here, although it deserves attention. It is well known that many authors, especially at the dawn of the new Russian detective fiction, wrote under a pseudonym — some of them to avoid embarrassment (as in the case of graduates of the Literary Institute), others to avoid confusing their main profession with this ‘sideline’, still others under pressure from the publishers. One result of this has been situations where an author for one reason or another breaks a contract with a publishing house, but his name — like a brand name — remains in the possession of the publishers. So as not to lose the name they have worked to establish, publishers hire another, usually completely unknown writer, who continues to produce novels under the name of the already famous author. If the ‘real’ author continues to publish books under the same pseudonym and the publishers dig their heels in, then literary twins begin to operate on the book market (as was the case, for example, with Anna Malysheva and Viktoriia Platova, both of whom existed in two manifestations).

I imagine this sort of thing happens elsewhere as well.


  1. That’s evil to sell a writer’s name for money. I mean a real writer.

  2. I imagine this sort of thing happens elsewhere as well.

    I vaguely remember something like this at Harleqin, monster-big publisher of “romance novels.”

    Here we go: “(The Romance Writers of America association) has persuaded Harlequin books to register copyrights for authors’ works and to allow writers to own their own pseudonyms. Previously, authors were forced to leave their pseudonym behind if they switched publishing houses, making it more difficult for their fans to follow.”

  3. Excellent find, thanks!

  4. I know of a couple wineries where that’s happened: the famous winemaker sells his brand, name, and Napa property to a big conglomerate for a bajillion dollars, then he (sometimes his children) goes off and starts over with some labor-of-love project in a trendier spot in California, with the family name printed somewhere on the bottle. Although in this case it’s harder to confuse the now mass-market (Name) Napa Valley Cabernets with the, say, (Name) single-vineyard biodynamic Viogniers from Lodi.

Speak Your Mind