Ira Silverberg leaves the National Endowment for the Arts

Ira Silverberg, the high-powered literary agent who left New York to become the director of Literature Programs at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., is returning to his roots.

The NEA announced Monday that Silverberg, who joined the agency in October 2011, will depart the agency on July 11.

In a statement, Silverberg said, “My time here has been nothing but extraordinary. Having had a chance to see, first hand, the various transitions our field is going through -- podcasts, e-books, changes in the retail landscape -- has been humbling. Helping to guide our field through those transitions has been empowering and has provided me with an education I could find nowhere else. Briefly, the demands of family are such that I must return to New York. This is a bittersweet time for me as I have truly loved the work I do here -- and have been aided by a stellar staff.”

Amy Stolls, a literature program officer, will be the acting director until a new one is named.

Silverberg grew up in the Bronx. Prior to joining the NEA, Silverberg was an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic; he’d been an agent at Donadio and Olson before that. Three of his clients -- Adam Haslett, Christopher Sorrentino and René Steinke -- were finalists for the National Book Award in Fiction. Other careers he helped shepherd were diverse, encompassing satiric writer Sam Lipsyte and former child soldier and memoirist Ishmael Beah.


“Working with great writers for so many years still provides a great thrill,” he told the NEA after he began working there. “What could be better than helping get their words out into the world?”


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