> Zed Book Club / Publisher Halts New Philip Roth Biography as Its Author, Blake Bailey, Faces Allegations of Rape and Sexual Misconduct

Celebrated literary biographer Blake Bailey, pictured in 2013. Photograph: Allen J Schaben/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

> Buzz

Publisher Halts New Philip Roth Biography as Its Author, Blake Bailey, Faces Allegations of Rape and Sexual Misconduct

/ BY Cynthia Ross Cravit / April 23rd, 2021


N.W. Norton, publisher of a 900-page authorized biography of literary giant Philip Roth, has said it will temporarily halt the book’s shipping and promotion after its author, Blake Bailey, was accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment and assault, dating back twenty years.

Before Bailey achieved acclaim as a literary biographer — he wrote books about John Cheever, Richard Yates and Charles Jackson — he was a teacher at Lusher Middle School in New Orleans in the ’90s. Recently, four former students have come forward, accusing him of inappropriate and manipulative behaviour while he was their teacher, claiming that he “groomed” them for sexual relationships after they graduated.

In an interview with the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, one of his former students, Eve Crawford Peyton, also alleges he raped her when she was 22. Peyton wrote in a letter quoted by the LA Times: “These stories have been whispered about for decades or shared over a glass of wine by former students, who all thought they were the only ones. His behavior was something of an open secret, and it absolutely followed a pattern and was textbook grooming, but no one ever said anything … To be fair, he never did anything then, not in eighth grade. But he laid the groundwork. With dirty jokes, sly comments, hugs that went on slightly too long, encouraging us to share our personal lives once we moved on to high school (‘Write to me about your latest slap-and-tickle’).”

“These allegations are serious. In light of them, we have decided to pause the shipping and promotion of Philip Roth: The Biography pending any further information that may emerge,” W.W. Norton & Company said in a statement to NBC News on Thursday.

For his part, Bailey has denied the allegations. His lawyer told the Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate: “Mr Bailey has never acted inappropriately with any student and has never received any complaints about his time at Lusher more than 20 years ago … It is absurd to suggest that he was grooming students for anticipated encounters as adults many years later.”

The statement went on to say, “Mr Bailey has never treated a woman inappropriately and has never forced himself on a woman.”

The writer faced further backlash when he was dropped by his literary agency, the Story Factory, the Los AngelesTimes reported.

Book Club - Scroll

Published earlier this month, the much-anticipated Philip Roth biography received glowing reviews and quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Bailey who won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography in 2009 for his book on Cheever, began working on the Roth book in 2012, according to The Associated Press.

Roth died of congestive heart failure in 2018 at the age of 85. He first gained attention with his 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus and went on to become one of the most awarded American writers of his generation, including with a Pulitzer Prize for his 1997 novel American Pastoral.

THE SCROLL

Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


> STAY UP TO DATE

Sign Up for the Weekly Book Club Newsletter