In search of a good read

Gareth Creer in his Commentary (Books, 26 March) contends that the review pages of newspapers "are not designed to help people buy good novels rather than bad novels. Bad novels by the famous are better copy, and of course the nation needs to know which novel-by-numbers to buy next."

Of course reviews - good or bad - of the latest Rushdie, Amis or Winterson make good copy. But so do good reviews of lesser-known novelists; literary editors as well as agents and publishers hope to be among the first to find a bold new voice in fiction. As a writer of fiction myself, I feel this particularly keenly.

Over 9,000 novels were published in Britain last year, 3,000 more than appeared the previous year. Choices must be made - I'm sure sometimes they're not the right ones. But we try our best; the Times' "Metro" section has a weekly slot for first novels, and I am always eager for what's fresh and interesting, whatever the name on the cover. Keep writing what you believe in, Mr Creer, and I'll look out for your work.

Erica Wagner
Literary editor, the "Times", London E1

This article first appeared in the 02 April 1999 issue of the New Statesman, How the doves turned hawkish