A biography of the late novelist Philip Roth that was dropped by its original editor after allegations of sexual abuse against its author Blake Bailey has found a new home.
Originally published in April in the United States by WW Norton, Bailey’s book had received much acclaim: it had been nominated for the role by Roth, having been the biographer of writers such as John Cheever and Richard Yates. But that same month, several women came forward to allege that Bailey sexually harassed and abused them in their late teens and early twenties, and that he spent years grooming them while he was theirs. professor at Lusher Middle School in New Orleans in the 1990s. A week later, WW Norton released the book and severed ties with the author.
The book remained in print in the UK through Vintage, which is part of Penguin Random House, after the allegations came to light.
Bailey has denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer condemned WW Norton’s decision as a “gut reaction … based on the false and unsubstantiated allegations against him”.
The publisher said at the time that it would give the amount of Bailey’s advance to “organizations that fight against sexual assault or sexual harassment and work to protect survivors,” and that “Mr. Bailey will be free to look for a publication elsewhere if he wishes ”.
Now Skyhorse Publishing has picked up the book and will be releasing it as a paperback on June 15 and as an eBook and audiobook this week. The independent press also houses Woody Allen’s memoir Apropos of Nothing, which was dropped by Hachette after employee protests, as well as titles by Alan Dershowitz, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone.
Skyhorse wouldn’t comment on its latest deal further, but Chairman Tony Lyons told Vanity Fair last year, after winning the title from Cohen: “The point is, fewer and fewer publishers are ready to tackle it. to difficult books. “
Norton’s decision to drop Bailey’s book had been criticized by some free speech organizations. The National Coalition Against Censorship said: “While a writer’s own biography can certainly impact our interpretation and analysis of his or her work, the reading public should be allowed to make their own decisions about what to do with it. you must read. PEN America said it was “concerned about a precedent that even blatant wrongdoing by an author results in a book’s takedown, and potentially the removal of limits for readers.” And in their announcement of the acquisition, Skyhorse quoted the Authors Guild: “The answer to the suppression of expression and ideas is not greater or reactive suppression, but greater public debate, which is silenced when a publisher prevents readers from reading a book and forming their opinions. A book is greater than its author; it is an often controversial addition to the public record for posterity.