Jack Miles, book editor of the Los Angeles Times, has been named president of the National Book Critics Circle.
"People are always talking about how the literary world is a New York-East Coast Establishment. One of the things we were proud to affirm by having Jack be our president is that is not the case," said Thomas M. Disch, vice president and secretary of the organization. "The National Book Critics Circle is a national organization, and it's wonderful that we should have a president who is located on one of our coasts other than the Eastern one. It's about time."
Miles, Disch added, was selected by acclamation by the group's board of directors, who represent 591 members throughout the country.
The circle is best known for its prestigious annual literary awards in fiction, poetry, general nonfiction, biography and criticism. "But our main function is to look after the interests of book reviewers," said Disch, noting that in the natural course of his work at The Times, Miles will also be doing the work of the organization.
Before joining The Times in 1985, Miles was executive editor of the University of California Press at UCLA, where he was responsible for generating and seeing into print about 25 titles a year.
A native of Chicago, Miles spent 10 years as a Jesuit seminarian, educated in Rome, Germany and Israel as well as in the United States.
He received a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages from Harvard University in 1971 and has taught at Loyola University of Chicago. Miles has also taught at the University of Montana and worked as an editor at Doubleday & Co.