Before we get to Gerald Howard's well-deserved honor, one thing needs to be said at the outset: If you haven't read Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, A. Scott Berg's 1978 biography of the quintessential, old-school book editor who worked with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and Ernest Hemingway at Scribner's, go find a used hardcover somewhere—or pick up the recently reissued paperback. It's a great and—in hindsight, in some ways—sad book: They don't make editors like Maxwell Perkins anymore. Or maybe they do and they just work in an industry that hardly resembles the one depicted in Berg's biography. One thing's certain: They still make editors who are worthy of receiving an award bearing the name of the great editor. Nan A. Talese. Gary Fisketjon. Drenka Willen. Jonathan Galassi. And now, Gerald Howard.
Howard, vice president and executive editor of Doubleday, recently received the fifth annual Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction. Sponsored by New York City's Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, the award is given to an editor, publisher, or agent "who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States."
In Howard's long career in publishing, he's worked with such eminited authors as David Foster Wallace, Gordin Lish, Don DeLillo, Paul Auster, Ana Castillo, A. R. Ammons, and others. At Doubleday, where he's been since 1998, Howard has worked with Kate Christensen, Pat Barker, Walter Kirn, Chuck Palahniuk, and Gore Vidal.
In announcing Howard as the winner, Peter Ginna, chairman of the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, said, “Over the course of many years Gerald Howard has introduced and championed the work of a host of writers who have helped to push the boundaries of contemporary fiction. It's a pleasure to honor him with the 2009 Perkins Award.”
The award will be presented to Howard at the library's annual dinner on November 9.