Norman Mailer Anthology finds new publisher after Random House chooses not to pursue it

An anthology of the late Norman Mailer’s writings will be published by Skyhorse Publishing after Random House, Mailer’s longtime publisher reportedly became wary of the project.

The collection of Mailer’s works, including some writings that have never been published, according to The New York Times, is expected to be published by the late author’s 100th birthday in 2023.

Andrew Wylie, a literary agent with the agency who represents Mailer’s estate, told The Associated Press that Skyhorse Publishing would publish the book, but previous reports that Random House dropped the collection over objections from the inside the company some of Mailer’s writings on racial issues were not specific.

“Random House is proud to publish Norman Mailer and intends to promote his work in a meaningful way for the centenary, alongside Skyhorse’s publication of the anthology,” Wylie wrote in an email. “The Mailer family and Random House are united in supporting Norman’s work.”

The report disputed by Wylie came from the online newsletter The Ankler, which alleged that a Random House staff member objected to Mailer’s writing, particularly from the 1957 essay ‘The White Negro’ .

In the essay, Mailer writes that blacks are models of nonconformity for whites to follow, focusing on “the enormous present,” abandoning “the pleasures of the mind for the more obligatory pleasures of the body.”

Wylie and a spokesperson for Random House told the AP that the claim that the publisher “discontinued” the collection was false because it was not officially under contract.

Norman Mailer during a discussion with Norman Mailer at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on March 2, 2006 at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York City. A collection of Mailer’s works will be published by Skyhorse Publishing, apparently ahead of the late writer’s 100th birthday next year.
J. Kempin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Skyhorse has already picked up abandoned works such as Woody Allen’s memoir “Apropos of Nothing” and a biography of Philip Roth written by Blake Bailey.

Wylie said details such as the book’s content, title and publication date have yet to be determined.

A Skyhorse spokesperson was unable to immediately confirm that there was a deal for the Mailer book. Skyhorse is an independent publisher that has made a name for itself in recent years recruiting authors such as Allen, Bailey, Garrison Keillor and others from whom the mainstream industry has distanced itself, for reasons ranging from harassment allegations sexual to sexual assault. Skyhouse is also the publisher of the incendiary bestseller “The Real Anthony Fauci,” by anti-vaccine crusader Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

When asked if he would confirm the report from Ankler, Wylie replied, “That’s not the point at all.” When asked why Random House wasn’t publishing the book, Wylie called it an “editorial decision” and added “There’s really no problem here.”

Mailer, who died in 2007, was one of the most famous and controversial authors of his lifetime and has long been an integral part of Random House’s legacy, which includes Mailer peers such as Truman Capote and William Styron. He received Pulitzer Prizes for ‘Armies of the Night’ and ‘The Executioner’s Song’, but has also been widely condemned for his writings on race, for his admittedly misogynistic views and for stabbing his second wife, Adele Morales. , in 1960.

While news of Random House not publishing the new collection led to allegations on social media that Mailer was “canceled”, her books remain widely available through Random House and the Library of America, which has published permanent editions. related to his work. “The White Negro” can easily be found online, including through Dissent magazine, where the essay first appeared.

But interest in his work has waned sharply, especially compared to contemporaries like James Baldwin. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks about 85% of the print market, the combined sales of four of Mailer’s best-known books – “The Armies of the Night”, “The Naked and the Dead”, “The Executioner’s Song” and “The Fight” – were under 4,000 copies in 2021.

One of Mailer’s sons, Michael Mailer, told the AP that Random House had suggested a centennial project. The family, along with biographer Mailer J. Michael Lennon, “worked out a proposal for a collection of political essays on democracy which they liked, then later decided not to proceed due to objections, putatively, from certain junior cadres”.

A Random House spokesperson did not respond directly to allegations about the book’s content, saying in a statement: “It is factually incorrect that Random House has canceled an upcoming Norman Mailer book of essays. We had no not this collection under contract. Random House will not continue to publish much of the Norman Mailer backlist.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.