Philip Roth Biography Finds a New Publisher

Norton’s decision raised questions about publishers’ ethical obligations to respond to controversies that extend beyond the contents of the books they publish, and it prompted criticism from some free-speech and authors’ advocacy groups, including PEN America, the Author’s Guild and the National Coalition Against Censorship.Books must be judged on their content. Many of literature’s celebrated authors led troubled — and troubling — lives,” the National Coalition Against Censorship said in a statement last month. The reading public must be allowed to make their own decisions about what to read.”

Skyhorse has been willing to court controversy in the past. Last year, after Hachette dropped Mr. Allen’s autobiography, “Apropos of Nothing,” in the wake of an employee walkout, Skyhorse acquired and published it, with a print run of 75,000 copies. The press has also worked with provocative authors like the conspiracy theorist Jim Garrison and the attorney and commentator Alan Dershowitz, a frequent defender of former President Donald J. Trump.

The literary agent Andrew Wylie, who represents the Roth estate, declined to comment on the new edition and whether the estate approved of the book’s rerelease. On the Norton edition, the copyright was jointly held by Mr. Bailey and the Roth estate, an arrangement that some literary scholars and biographers found unusual.

Roth, who died in 2018, approved of Mr. Bailey as his authorized biographer, after casting off others, and gave Mr. Bailey exclusive access to a treasure trove of documents, including unpublished manuscripts and transcripts of interviews with his close friends and associates.

Mr. Bailey said on Monday that his agreement with the Wylie agency, which gave him permission to draw on Roth’s materials, predated his contract with Norton and was still in effect, allowing him to release a new edition of the biography. (The Skyhorse edition uses the same Roth photo on its cover.)

In the wake of the controversy over Mr. Bailey’s behavior and the fate of his book, some literary scholars and biographers have called on the Roth estate to make the author’s personal papers and full archive more widely available to scholars.



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