"Thank you for sending ARISUGAWA PARK for me to consider. I took a look at this over the weekend, and unfortunately think it’s not for me. The sense of Japan is interwoven into the action of the novel very well and the main characters do feel multi-faceted as you suggested, but on the writing level it read as a bit wordy and not as smooth as I think is necessary for this to work as a real page-turner. This type of detective/crime novel is not as much in my wheelhouse as say, psychological suspense, so I’m not confident that I’m the best editor to work out the kinks in this story. So I’m going to pass, in favor of an editor who can really dive deep into the book and pull off the work that I think still needs to be done.
My agent Kimberley persists with Arisugawa Park, somehow. I am thinking of how a lot of editors have trouble digesting it––the common denominator seems to be that, because of the intricacy of the plot and its classic literary style (read wordiness) it would take a relatively Herculean effort (no simple surgery) on their part to bring it to the revenue potential of much simpler, "contemporary reader" friendly books. The kind of books I skip because I can tell, after reading a couple pages, that the book is pandering to a certain audience.
I pander to an audience of one.
Add to that the fact that Ari Park falls squarely in the "detective/crime" genre in editors' minds, without the cachet of literary fiction (which I believe it to be). We live in a genre-bound era, where generalist sympathies have been lost in a rush to meet narrowing demographics.*
There is also the fact that my style is firmly in the "depths beneath the still surface" category. I do not explicitly explore the psychological, I find more interest in what is left unsaid. What can the perceptive reader intuit, without being led to any firm conclusion?
What did I myself intuit through the process of creation, in moments of spontaneity/self-revelation left purposefully exposed? The revision process is (yet again) afoot.
* As Nils puts it, the framework of a great novel is there, it is those lulls and glossing of certain characters that prevent the book from truly functioning as a piece of page-turning art.
** An interesting article on this specialization phenomenon, in the philosophical sphere.