In a widely read essay entitled "MFA vs NYC," bestselling novelist Chad Harbach argued that the American literary scene has split into two cultures: New York publishing versus university MFA programs. This book brings together established writers, MFA professors and students, and New York editors, publicists, and agents to talk about these overlapping worlds, and the ways writers make (or fail to make) a living within them. Should you seek an advanced degree, or will workshops smother your style? Do you need to move to New York, or will the high cost of living undo you? What's worse—having a day job or not having health insurance? How do agents decide what to represent? Will Big Publishing survive? How has the rise of MFA programs affected American fiction? The expert contributors, including George Saunders, Elif Batuman, and Fredric Jameson, consider all these questions and more, with humor and rigor. MFA vs NYC is a must-read for aspiring writers, and for anyone interested in the present and future of American letters.
"We should first speak about how excellent this book's title is, as compact and mighty in its way as ‘Godzilla vs. King Kong.' It promises that someone's block will be knocked off, as they used to say on the playground about toy robot bouts. If neither side is, in the end, definitively clouted, some useful blows are landed . . . MFA vs NYC will appeal to many young writers, not merely for its insider perspective but also for its gossip and confessional essays . . . A serious, helpful and wily book." —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
"A cast of literary professionals offers an entertaining bounty of experience, opinions and advice . . . Essential insights, masterfully assembled, on the precarious state of American publishing." —Kirkus Reviews