A: Sure, we’ve all seen less than subtle product placement on the big screen. The lead character finding his fiancée while chatting on AOL, a couple serendipitously bumping into one another at a Starbucks, a ball player getting that extra ounce of energy from the last sip of his Coke.
For the most part, that sort of underhanded advertising has been relegated to film, right? Well, in 2001, literary types were shocked to discover that author Fay Weldon’s latest novel, The Bulgari Connection, had more than just a titular connection to the jewelry manufacturer. Bulgari had, in fact, paid Weldon to write it. That explains the dozens of sensual descriptions of their products found within (“it was a sleek modern piece … the mount following the irregular contours of the thin worn bronze”), but not why a respectable, Booker prize-nominated writer would accept such a payoff.
In her defense, a defiant Weldon said, “I don’t care. They never gave me the Booker prize anyway!” Having earned so much critical condemnation, she’s unlikely to get one now.