PEN America Responds to Decision to Take Philip Roth Biography Out of Print
CEO Nossel says move potentially makes the book off limits for readers, a loss for the public
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — In response to publisher W. W. Norton taking Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:
“We are concerned about a precedent whereby even egregious misdeeds by an author result in a book being withdrawn, and potentially taken off limits for readers. If we were to apply that standard writ large, there would be thousands of books by bigots, misogynists, and miscreants that could be removed from circulation on those grounds. While these books may be picked up elsewhere, once that stigma is attached, there may not be another publisher willing to touch them. The pressure is also not limited to publishers. Libraries, bookstores, and even eBay have recently come under pressure to remove books that stoke controversy.
“We appreciate the desire to avoid rewarding an author amid horrific allegations. But every effort should be made to ensure that the public is not deprived of ideas, narratives, or revelations. It is preferable for publishing, bookselling, and libraries to remain arenas where the broadest array of choices are available, exposing people to ideas they might not otherwise encounter or entertain. Bringing out a book should signify that a publisher believes there is something edifying, worthwhile, or elucidating contained in the volume; it should not be construed as an endorsement of the ideas or narrative purveyed, nor of the personal conduct of the author.”