Raisin’s first two novels were published by Penguin, but here too A Natural brought about a departure. He and Penguin “saw the book slightly differently”. The novel went on submission, to be bought by Jonathan Cape, and “even in conversations with publishers who saw the book, and some of them turned it down on the grounds that - they were quite upfront about saying this - ‘We don’t know how to sell it to women because it’s about football, but at the same time we don’t know how we sell it to football supporters because it’s got gay in it.’ And that’s incredible,” he says. “Well, it’s not incredible at all. It feels completely unsurprising. But I’m interested in how the book is received because it’s not a book for men, it’s not a book for football supporters, it’s a book for readers. You can write fiction that is searching and empathetically complicated about any subject.” He is drawn to situations – and this is the only time he sounds vehement – with a “dead crust of opinion around them”.

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