Jon Gingerich, senior editor of O’Dwyer’s, has published a satirical novel about the crisis management industry titled The Appetite Factory.
The novel was published by Keylight Books, an imprint of Turner Publishing Company. Turner acquired the novel last year.
The Appetite Factory is about a PR pro named Leonard Lundell, who leads the crisis management team at a medium-sized Madison Avenue PR firm. Lundell repairs corporate executives’ reputations for a living, but he’s dealing with a crisis of his own. Specifically, he enjoys eating things with no nutritional value: pencils, carpet, laundry detergent, among a litany of other inanimate objects.
Lundell is able to hide his habit until a low-ranking employee of a prized new client discovers his secret and blackmails him. To his surprise, Lundell then discovers his nemesis’ own culinary proclivities are just as bizarre as his. Eventually, the pair develop a cynical new crisis management model where they convince companies to hire them to manufacture fake crises so the media will give them coverage.
Described as an absurdist and dystopian work of literary fiction, Gingerich, in a recent promotional video said the novel is a comment on today’s “scandal-obsessed news cycle that’s more interested in clicks than content” as well as a “toxic social media environment where everyone’s offended about everything all the time.”
Gingerich, who is also a fiction instructor at the Gotham Writers Workshop, has edited O’Dwyer’s print magazine since 2006. To date, he has published more than a dozen short stories in literary journals and magazines. In 2019, his short story, “Thornhope, Indiana,” was named winner of The Saturday Evening Post’s “2020 Great American Fiction Contest,” beating out hundreds of competing entries.