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Posts Tagged ‘John Freeman’

Ellah Allfrey Named Deputy Editor at Granta

1247759281848.jpgThe literary journal Granta has appointed Ellah Allfrey as deputy editor. Earlier this year, editor Alex Clark stepped down, making John Freeman the journal’s acting editor.

Allfrey is a publishing veteran with five years at Penguin Press and six years at Random House. Most recently, she served as senior editor at Jonathan Cape. Over the course of her career, she has edited Carmen Callil, Bettany Hughes and Julian Barnes. In addition she helmed Cape’s growing list of young African writers. Last week, GalleyCat covered the release party for Granta 107.

Allfrey had this statement: “This is a particularly exciting time to be joining Granta. While I am sorry to be leaving Cape, it’s an irresistible opportunity to work on a magazine that has published many of my favourite writers. I am delighted at the prospect of working with John and the team at Granta–finding the very best of new writing and building on the magazine’s reputation as one at the heart of cultural life.”

Authors’ Favorite Status Galleys

Last night GalleyCat braved the muggy July weather for the launch party for Granta 107 at the cozy Manhattan bookstore, Three Lives & Co..

We spotted a couple review copies of Thomas Pynchon‘s “Inherent Vice” floating around the party, and even struck up a conversation with Salman Rushdie about the reclusive author. It reminded us of the NY Observer‘s feature about 2009′s “status galleys”–measuring how much credibility an advance reading copy of a hot book can lend to the regular reader.

Inspired, this GalleyCat editor interviewed some of the writers and editors at the party about their favorite status galley–including video answers from John Wray (author of Lowboy), Matthew Aaron Goodman (author of “Hold Love Strong“), and John Freeman, Granta’s acting editor.

Salman Rushdie’s Dinner with Thomas Pynchon

26491_rushdie_salman.gifLast night a crowd of literature lovers filled up Three Lives & Co. bookstore and spilled into the West Village street for a literary block party–celebrating the release of Granta 107. Among the attendees were Zadie Smith, Joshua Ferris, John Wray, and Granta acting editor John Freeman.

During the festivities, GalleyCat caught up with Salman Rushdie (pictured, via), who just finished a screenplay draft for his classic novel, “Midnight’s Children.” The author said he was looking forward to reading a copy of Thomas Pynchon‘s “Inherent Vice” this summer. “It sounds like his most lighthearted book since Vineland,” he told this reporter, recalling a dinner he had with the reclusive Pynchon while reviewing “Vineland” for the NY Times.

“He was extremely Pynchon-eque. He was the Pynchon I wanted him to be,” explained Rushdie. He wouldn’t describe the secretive author, but wished he could have befriended Pynchon. “He never called again,” Rushdie concluded, ruefully.

David Graham Departs at Granta Publications

grantacover.jpgDavid Graham stepped down as managing director of Granta Publications and Portobello Books, Bookseller reports. Graham joined the company in 2006, leaving Canongate Books in a move the Scotsman called “a major blow to Canongate.”

This is the second shake-up at the literary organization in less than a month. On May 28 of this year, former editor Alex Clark resigned, and American editor John Freeman was appointed acting editor. This week Granta, the NY Observer, and Afterword all published interviews with the new editor.

Here’s more from the article: “In a short statement, the company said that queries previously directed to Graham should now be directed to Granta’s owner and publisher Sigrid Rausing. There was no further comment.”

American Readers: Rising Up or Fading Out?

1242299192488.jpgOn Friday afternoon, American readers were praised, teased, and celebrated during a lively BEA panel discussion moderated by Granta‘s newly-appointed acting editor, John Freeman. The editor grilled novelists Olga Grushin, Sherman Alexie, and Paul Auster about the literary journal’s new fiction issue and American letters.

Alexie made a controversial point about readership: “All of us are writing for college-educated middle-aged white women,” he said. “Look around you. Count!” The audience ruefully complied, testing his generalization.

Grushin recalled how she moved to the United States as a 17-year-old student and read American writers for a year straight, hoping to strike up literary conversations. “I thought I could come here and talk to people about what I read–boy was I wrong!” she said, and the audience giggled nervously. She recounted telling an American teenager that her favorite authors were Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “I’ve never read those Russian writers,” replied her young friend.

Auster concluded the discussion with an unwavering faith in his country’s pool of writers. “This is what makes American literature so vital–it’s so full of talent that these things bubble up anyway; despite the recession, despite declining literacy rates, there are as many poets now as there ever was.”

Granta Editor Departs

1234889362244.jpgThe literary journal Granta announced that Editor Alex Clark has departed.

American Editor John Freeman was appointed Acting Editor, assuming that post immediately, the Board of Granta Magazine announced today. Earlier this year, GalleyCat reported from the Granta 105 release party in Manhattan.

Here’s more from the announcement: “The Board would like to thank Alex for her positive contribution to Granta over the past eighteen months and wishes her every success for the future.”

Emily Cook Joins Granta as Advertising Director

1236259920394.jpgThe literary journal Granta has hired Emily Cook as US Advertising Director, bringing one of Publishers Weekly‘s featured “50 Under 40″ publishing leaders to the publication.

Previously, Cook worked as marketing director at Milkweed Editions, program director for the Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair, and a book club advocate for the NEA’s “Big Read” program.

Here’s Cook’s statement, from the release: “I am thrilled to be joining Granta at such an exciting time, especially since I have been a fan and a subscriber for a number of years. 2009 marks Granta’s 30th anniversary, and with the recent addition of John Freeman at the helm of the American Editor’s desk the energy is palpable.”

Dateline LBF: Making Global Sense of it

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The New York Times' Alan Riding has been at LBF all week and seems, at least for the purposes of this article, to have a golly-gee approach to the trade show that’s less about celebrating books, he says, and more about “the art of the deal.” And even though the mood is optimistic and lots of agents are getting face time with publishers and their foreign rights crew, the consensus is that, well, there is no consensus book. “You won’t get a ‘book of the fair”as you did 10 or 15 years ago,” said Tom Weldon, managing director at Penguin General, one of Penguin’s divisions. “With the Internet and all the other information that is out there, you no longer get huge deals here. The hard work is about foreign rights and exports.”

Meanwhile, National Book Critics Circle president John Freeman has been filing dispatches from LBF for the NBCC blog (full disclosure: I’m a member) where he reports on Monday’s panel with John Banville and what books are about to be released in the UK this fall, which Freeman finds to be “sort of useful since England’s publishing schedules tend to be a bit ahead of America’s — and they’re packed.”

And over at the Bookseller, Alison Bone reports that UK trade publishers are using the platform of the London Book Fair to make a definitive stance on territorial copyright, with editors pushing hard for world rights deals or if need be, UK/Commonwealth with Canada excluded. “I think it’s a necessary trade-off,” said Picador publisher Andrew Kidd, who has just bought UK and Commonwealth excluding Canada rights for BREATH by Tim Winton. “Ultimately, having European exclusivity is about protecting our own territory–and that’s the most important thing.” But Association of Authors’ Agents president Clare Alexander said some publishers are not good at handling world rights. “It’s a simple ‘solution’ for publishers to control everything but it may not be the right answer,” she said, adding that a policy of exchanging Europe for Canada is “extremely insulting to the Canadians”.

And the NBCC Awards Go To…

While NBCC Board member Rebecca Skloot liveblogged the awards, Ron and I sat through a somewhat speedy ceremony emceed by president John Freeman and highlighted by Mary Gordon‘s glowing retrospective and tribute (accompanied by retro Jill Krementz photography) to Sandrof winner John Leonard, followed by Leonard’s own words, a speech so filled with mirth, self-deprecation and reflections on present and past reviewing that I hope the transcript is made publicly available at some point. Nona Balakian winner Steven G. Kellman was a quote-a-minute, namechecking the gamut from H.L. Mencken (who had unkind words about criticism and even more scathing words about poetry – partly because of a volume he himself had written and then done everything in his power to squelch) to Lily Tomlin (“we’re all in this together – alone,” as applied to book critics, who Kellman quipped “are the only critics who can do their job in their underwear.”)

Then came the awards:

Criticism: Lawrence Weschler, EVERYTHING THAT RISES: A BOOK OF CONVERGENCES (McSweeney’s)
Poetry: Troy Jollimore, TOM THOMSON IN PURGATORY (Margie/Intuit House)
Non-Fiction: Simon Schama, ROUGH CROSSINGS: BRITAIN, SLAVES AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (Ecco)
Biography: Julie Phillips
, JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF ALICE B. SHELDON (St. Martin’s Press)
Autobiography: Daniel Mendelsohn, THE LOST (HarperCollins)
Fiction: Kiran Desai, THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS (Atlantic Monthly Press)

It’s an award winner list of some surprise – Jollimore’s win especially surprised the poetry faithful in the audience – and some that might have seemed like a surprise, like Desai, but on further reflection are just about right. Ron’s got more about notable quotes and the afterparty, but I’m especially happy to have chatted with John Leonard about his new prize, his belief that literary blogs are “where the passion is” and finding good books to read that might be off most people’s radar. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Meet your Granta Best of Young American Novelists

Granta announced its second-ever list of Best of Young American Novelists, comprised of 21 American-based authors aged 35 and under. And what’s immediately apparent, just as with the first list published back in 1996, is how many of them, um, haven’t published novels yet. Which isn’t to say it isn’t a fine list of American writers, but considering Granta publisher Sigrid Rausing went out of her way to namecheck notable writers who didn’t make the cut, like Benjamin Kunkel, Benjamin Markovits and Joshua Ferris, would it have been so difficult to actually restrict the list to those who truly fit the criteria of the title? Or if not, then call a spade a spade; this is the Best of Young American Writers, although that probably isn’t as pretty an acronym.

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In the back row, from the left, judges Edmund White, Meghan O’Rourke (with Paul Yamazaki‘s ear just visible behind her), Matt Weiland of Granta, A.M. Homes, and Sigrid Rausing. In the front, from left, young American novelists John Wray, Akhil Sharma, Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Uzodinma Iweala, Olga Grushin, Karen Russell, Gary Shteyngart, and Gabe Hudson.

Anyway, there was much merriment to be had at the Housing Works announcement party last night. Apart from those writers who appeared for their ceremonial investiture, other boldface names in the crowd included Random House editor-in-chief Daniel Menaker (sporting an unexplained bandage on his nose), Eric Chinski, David Roth-Ey (vying for “tallest man” status with Paul Slovak), Lorraine Adams, Alison Callaghan, Rachel Fershleiser (ably working the joint in her capacity as Housing Works volunteer), John Freeman (when not busily filing wire reports on the LA Times Book Festival Award nominations or Granta’s list), and Wendy Weil…along with a few others Ron photographed.

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