Publisher asks journalists not to comment on "O"
Simon & Schuster is asking journalists not to comment on the anonymously written novel about President Obama, “O: A Presidential Novel.”
In an email sent this morning, Jonathan Karp, executive vice president and publisher at Simon & Schuster, writes:
On January 25, we'll be publishing a secret novel simply titled O, about President Obama's campaign for re-election in 2012. The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If so, it would be great if you refrained from commenting, in solidarity with the principle that a book should be judged on its content and not on the perceived ideology of its author. The author, an individual with integrity and talent, is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows the political world intimately. In fact, you may know this person, or know of this person -- if you are not in fact the author yourself. Thanks in advance for your consideration. I apologize for the impersonality of this blind group email, but this seems like the best way to protect the author's identity. I hope you enjoy the book. It's terrific.
Of course, sending such a letter has the effect of generating even more buzz for the novel and amping up speculation about who wrote it.
In another letter written by Karp (this one included in advance copies of the book sent to reviewers and on the book’s newly launched website), he writes that the author is following in the footsteps of great literary figures like Jane Austen:
“The author is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows this world intimately. The author wishes to remain anonymous to avoid being pigeonholed or ignored or scorned on the basis of associations, views, or background. By choosing anonymity, our author is following in the tradition of Jane Austen, the Bröntes, ‘The Federalist Papers,’ ‘The Story of O,’ and, of course, Lemony Snicket.”
In the book’s acknowledgments the author gives his “deepest apologies and gratitude” to his family, “few of whom understood why I was behaving more peculiarly than usual, but worried about me nonetheless.”
The author goes on: “I’d like to express my admiration for friends and colleagues who’ve worked conscientiously on campaigns and in the White House because they believed in their cause and the candidate. I apologize for the occasional exaggerated abuse. I kid because I love.”
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