This article focuses on the extrinsic factors contributing to the popularity of novels in general and Dalene Matthee's Afrikaans "forest" novels in particular. Any group of agents involved in the production, dissemination and promotion of fiction comprises a literary institution. These literary institutions regulate the complex process of classifying and valuing a text as "literary fiction". The collective body of literary institutions constitutes the literary system in which each institution influences the way literature is viewed. Literary institutions perform a social function as "gatekeepers"
between the book and its audience, thus influencing its publication and reception.