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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Publisher asks journalists not to comment on "O"

By Stephen Lowman

Thumbnail image for O.jpgSimon & 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.”

By Stephen Lowman  | January 18, 2011; 1:00 PM ET
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It's Ryan Lizza.

Posted by: Porchland | January 18, 2011 3:13 PM | Report abuse

A couple of questions.

So is this a "novel" (fiction), an "historical novel" (fiction again), or something we're supposed to accept as an historical document? Or, a historical document where some conversations and situations didn't really happen, but are added out of creative license? Where does it stand then?

Second question: how many people (pundits included) will be able to tell or understand the difference?

Or actually deal with it correctly?

Posted by: RickyGibson | January 18, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like real-person fan fiction. I had no idea people were allowed to publish that.

Posted by: dkp01 | January 18, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Anything is called nowadays a novel.
In fact the novel has been already written by all who follow his[Mr.Obama] presidency through articles and e-mails.I´d call it a Narrative in Progress..Wait..wait to se how it ends the novel...No novel can start unless you got the END.Let´s pray for a happy ending

Posted by: justdiogo | January 18, 2011 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Uh, RickyGibson? How exactly would this be a historical document if it's about something (the 2012 campaign) that hasn't happened yet? Wait! That narrows the field considerably! The author has to be a time traveler! So it could be Doctor Who, Mary McFly, the Terminator, or perhaps anyone onboard the Starship Enterprise.

Posted by: Kablooie | January 18, 2011 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh,... campaign contributions disguised as a book 'about' O....great slinky way to get money.

Posted by: crowne2 | January 18, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Obama and his socialist minions will stop at nothing to insure the increase in profit margins for Simon and Schuster.

Posted by: rcupps | January 18, 2011 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Hilarious! I'm not a journalist but I sure know who the author is. He is the one who kids because he loves. or can.
Have to read it to find out the new rules for the next campaign. Can't wait to read this!

Posted by: tbalxx | January 19, 2011 12:05 AM | Report abuse

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