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Letter from the Editor: Literary Tales, Trials, and Tribulations

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Reception to follow
Members $15 and Non-members $20

Editorial Perspectives

Helene Atwan, Ladette Randolph, Michael Reynolds, and Meghna Chakrabarti

For the reader, the world of books may seem a simple one: go to the local library or bookstore, select a title that suits our taste, open, and turn the pages. The story of the editors who shape the works we cherish is rarely told. What choices and challenges do these editors face? How do they perceive themselves and their role in the world today? How does their mission drive the works they publish? Join us for this rare opportunity to spend an evening with editors from New England’s most mission-driven publishing houses and journals. The panel— composed of Michael Reynolds, Editor-in-Chief of Europa Editions (the publishing house of Elena Ferrante); Helene Atwan, Director of Beacon Press; and Ladette Randolph, Editor-in-Chief of Ploughshares—will offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creation of books and discuss the motivations and aspirations propelling those books into the marketplace. The panel will be moderated by Mehgna Chakrabarti, host of WBUR’s RadioBoston, Modern Love: The Podcast, and frequent moderator at the Boston Book Festival.

Helene Atwan has been the director of Beacon Press since October 1995. She holds a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Virginia. Atwan began her career in publishing at Random House in 1976, and has worked at Alfred A. Knopf, Viking Press; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Simon and Schuster. Her acquisitions at Beacon include Gayl Jones’s The Healing, a National Book Award Finalist; Danielle Ofri’s Singular Intimacies; Rashid Khalidi’s Resurrecting Empire and The Iron Cage; Richard Blanco’s For All of Us, One Today; Cornel West’s Black Prophetic Fire; and Anita Hill’s Reimagining Equality; as well as books by Bill Ayers and Lauren Slater, and ten volumes of poetry by Pulitzer-prize winner Mary Oliver. She served for eight years on the board of PEN-New England and is the administrator of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award.

Ladette Randolph is editor-in-chief of Ploughshares and the author of four books, most recently a book of nonfiction called Leaving the Pink House. Her prior works of fiction includes the award-winning novels Haven’s Wake and A Sandhills Ballad. Randolph is also on the faculty of the Writing, Literature, and Publishing Department at Emerson College in Boston. Prior to joining the staff at Ploughshares, she was an acquiring editor and associate director at University of Nebraska Press. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Rona Jaffe grant, a Virginia Faulkner Award, a Best New American Voices citation, and four Nebraska Book Awards.

Michael Reynolds has been with Europa Editions, where he is currently editor-in-chief, since 2004. Authors he has worked with at Europa include Alina Bronsky, Amelie Nothomb, Elena Ferrante, Chantel Acevedo, Charlotte Wood, Julie Lekstrom Himes, and Alexander Maksik. He is also an author and translator whose published translations include crime novels by Carlo Lucarelli and Viola Di Grado’s prize-winning novel 70% Acrylic 30% Wool. Reynolds is the recipient of the 2016 Golden Colophon Award for Superlative Achievement & Leadership in Independent Literary Publishing, awarded by the Community of Literary and Magazine Presses. He was born in Australia in 1968 and now lives in New York.

Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of Radio Boston, WBUR’s acclaimed weekday show with a focus on news, in-depth interviews with extraordinary people, and analysis on broader issues that have an impact on Boston and beyond. She is also the host of Modern Love: The Podcast, a collaborative digital production between WBUR and the New York Times. She has won awards for individual reporting from the Associated Press and the Radio Television News Directors Association for her writing, hard news reporting, and use of sound. She holds bachelor’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering from Oregon State University, a master’s degree in environmental science and risk management from Harvard University, and an MBA with honors from Boston University.

Beacon Press, Europa Editions, and Ploughshares all incorporate notions of social justice, the exchange of ideas, and respect for diversity into their mission statements. The Boston Athenæum holds the complete run of a strongly mission-driven body of work: The Liberator, founded and edited by William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879). In his own words, “The Liberator was designed to be, and has ever been, mainly devoted to the abolition of slavery … [and] has been instrumental in aiding the cause of reform in many of its most important aspects.”

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