W. W. Norton Takes Blake Bailey Books Out of Print, Ongoing Tensions at Simon & Schuster, and More

by Staff
4.28.21

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

W. W. Norton president Julia A. Reidhead has announced to staff that Blake Bailey’s recent biography of Philip Roth, as well as his 2014 memoir, will be taken out of print. Just last week the publisher had already chosen to cease shipments and promotion for Philip Roth due to allegations of sexual assault and grooming against the biographer. Now the publisher has also pledged to donate to organizations that serve survivors of sexual assault, disbursing a sum equivalent to Bailey’s advance for Philip Roth. Several years ago, a woman anonymously informed Reidhead that she had been raped by Bailey, but she received no direct response from the publisher. (New York Times)

At the New York Times, Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter write about the ongoing tensions at Simon & Schuster over publication deals with former members of the Trump administration. Last week Simon & Schuster president and CEO Jonathan Karp responded to a circulating petition organized by a group of staffers that called on the publisher to, among other demands, cancel its two-book deal with Mike Pence. “We come to work each day to publish, not cancel,” he wrote. Staff still formally submitted the petition on Monday, which included signatures from two hundred employees and more than three thousand five hundred additional supporters. Now the Times has discovered that Threshold, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, has a book deal with Kellyanne Conway, which Harris and Alter say is “sure to throw gas on the fire.”

Michelle T. Boone has been appointed to serve as the next president of the Poetry Foundation. She has held leadership roles at the Joyce Foundation and, most recently, Navy Pier. She also previously served as commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. She succeeds Henry Bienen, who resigned last summer after the foundation and its leadership was widely criticized for its failure to speak out against anti-Black racism and support marginalized artists.

“Kentucky’s always the starting point. If I am writing and describing a tree, I’m going to think about a tree from my childhood first.” Crystal Wilkinson has been inducted as the new poet laureate of Kentucky. (WFPL News)

Canadian designer Steve St. Pierre is accepting submissions for his “Jacket Required” project, in which he invents “book covers for unwritten memoirs.” Literary Hub highlights some of his best designs so far.

Alexandra Huynh, Alora Young, and Serena Yang, three of the finalists in the competition to serve as the next National Youth Poet Laureate, have each recorded a poem for the Washington Post.

“Having a disabling chronic illness can make me feel discouraged or frustrated that I can’t get up and do other things.” Kendra Winchester recommends “audiobooks for a sick day.” (Book Riot)

Over on Twitter, members of the literary community are questioning promotional copy for Jonathan Franzen’s latest book, which described him as “the leading novelist of his generation.” (Kirkus)