The Kenyon Review Ignites the Greatest Controversy in the History of Literature

by Salvatore Pane

This is the way the world ends. This is the way the world ends.

Doom, your name is thy Kenyon Review. Today, TKR announced that an upcoming fiction contest would be sponsored by that monolith of online shopping, Amazon.com! The always wonderful Roxane Gay wrote an interesting post about this that doubles back to the VQR budget discussion from a few months back, and she really hits on all of the salient points. The biggest problem people have with supporting a contest funded by Amazon is that the online retailer once famously classified a bunch of serious novels with gay themes as “adult literature”.

I must admit that I was all for the Amazon boycott in light of that revelation a year and a half ago, but I’ve purchased a ton of things (mostly books) from Amazon since. I’m curious. Are people still keeping up with that boycott or have most of you given up? Do you care about online business ethics? Does it even matter who The Kenyon Review is getting funding from?

All of us who have ever dabbled in the world of literary journals or the small presses know how difficult is to get any funding at all. When I edited Hot Metal Bridge, we operated with an anemic budget that could barely pay for web hosting, yet alone printing costs. And if given the opportunity to take on funding from Amazon back then, knowing what I now know about their unfair classification policies, I probably would have still taken the money. I probably would have published a queer issue and had a good chuckle. But what about you guys? Is this a good policy? Does it matter? Is ‘literature’ above funding? WHAT SAY YOU?

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