From the mid-1990s onwards, we witnessed a convergence between literary language and the language of publishing, for it was publishers, increasingly, who told us about the ‘masterpieces’ they were publishing (the word, like the literary itself, had by then been disowned by most literature departments). We also became spectators, in the sphere of literary publishing, of a species of activity that added a fresh – and what soon became an indispensable – dimension to the publishing of novels and, indeed, how the novel would be thought of: a mode of intervention that can only be approximated by the term ‘market activism’. The bolder agents and publishers abandoned the traditional forms of valuation by which novelists were estimated, published, and feted, and embraced a dramatic, frontiersman style of functioning that involved the expectation of a reward more literal than any form of cultural capital. Writers too made a pioneering contribution to this scenario. Andrew Wylie’s acquisition of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses and Rushdie’s defection from his erstwhile agent is one example of the radical break effected by market activism. Vikram Seth interviewing a selection of London agents before finally choosing Giles Gordon to represent his novel A Suitable Boy is another. Then there are Martin Amis’s moves to a new agent and publisher for The Information and the trajectory of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, from its discovery by Pankaj Mishra (then the chief editor at Harper Collins India) to the flight taken by the agent David Godwin to India to meet Roy: all events in this landscape. Market activism was not, as many of these examples remind us, unconnected to the idea of the discovery of new literatures. Certain instances that form this narrative might have started out as straightforward acts of literary valuation (such as Mishra’s excitement over Roy’s novel), and then, as they developed inexorably, become full-blown instances of market activism.