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On sensitivity readers

21 February 2022

'Normally agents and editors read a book thinking. "Do I love this, would other people love this?" Now a new concern has sprung up: "Will other people object to it?" You're worrying about whether what characters say can be taken out of context, screengrabbed and put on Twitter, and that the author will be punished. Books are judged by people who haven't read them more than ever before.

The Bad Sex Prize) takes a book which may or may not be a great piece of writing, reads the sex scenes out of context in a silly voice and everyone laughs. It's good fun but it's not a fair way to assess books. This is worse, because it's not even good-hearted; it's chasing offence.'

An unnamed publishing editor in the Sunday Times Culture