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Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Publisher Suspends Shipping Of Blake Bailey Book

<em>Philip Roth: The Biography,</em> by Blake Bailey
W.W. Norton
Philip Roth: The Biography, by Blake Bailey

W.W. Norton is suspending publication of a new Philip Roth biography in light of allegations of sexual misconduct by its author Blake Bailey.

According to The Times Picayune/New Orleans Advocate, Bailey, who was an eighth grade English teacher in New Orleans in the 1990s, pursued sex with some of his former students in their young adulthood. Times Picayune reporter Ramon Antonio Vargas writes that three of his former students described "sexual encounters with him" with "one accusing him of rape."

In addition, The New York Times reports that another woman, a publishing executive, has also accused Bailey of raping her several years ago while they were both overnight guests at the home of books critic Dwight Garner.

In an email, W.W. Norton told NPR: "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."

Bailey's lawyer, Billy Gibbens, told NPR the writer "denies the allegations that have been made against him and disagrees with his publisher's decision to pause distribution of his book."

Earlier this week, Bailey was dropped by his literary agency The Story Factory, as first reported by The Los Angeles Times.

Blake Bailey is an award-winning author. His biography of writer John Cheever won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer. His new biography of Philip Roth has received rave reviews. Cynthia Ozick writes in her New York Times book review, "Blake Bailey's comprehensive life of Philip Roth — to tell it outright — is a narrative masterwork ... As in a novel, what is seen at first to be casual chance is revealed at last to be a steady and powerfully demanding drive."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.
Meghan Collins Sullivan is a senior editor on the Arts & Culture Desk, overseeing non-fiction books coverage at NPR. She has worked at NPR over the last 13 years in various capacities, including as the supervising editor for NPR.org – managing a team of online producers and reporters and editing multi-platform news coverage. She was also lead editor for the 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog, written by five scientists on topics related to the intersection of science and culture.
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