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Publisher cancels Woody Allen’s memoir a month before publication

Woody Allen
Woody Allen’s memoir has been canceled.
(Matt Sayles / Associated Press)

Hachette Book Group will no longer be publishing Woody Allen’s memoir.

Four days after announcing an April 7 publication date, the publisher said in a statement on Friday that it was dropping “Apropos of Nothing,” Allen’s memoir, and would return all rights to the author.

“The decision to cancel Mr. Allen’s book was a difficult one,” the publisher said in a statement. “At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly. We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books. As publishers, we make sure every day in our work that different voices and conflicting points of views can be heard.”

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“Also, as a company, we are committed to offering a stimulating, supportive and open work environment for all our staff. Over the past few days, HBG leadership had extensive conversations with our staff and others. After listening, we came to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible for HBG.”

PEN America, the nonprofit dedicated to defending free speech in literature, also released a statement Friday following the news.

“This case represented something of a perfect storm. It involved not just a controversial book, but a publisher that was working with individuals on both sides of a longstanding and traumatic familial rupture. This presented unique circumstances that clearly colored the positions staked out and decisions taken,” CEO Suzanne Nossel said in the statement.

“If the end result here is that this book, regardless of its merits, disappears without a trace, readers will be denied the opportunity to read it and render their own judgements. As a defender of free speech and the availability of a wide breadth of books and ideas, we also fervently hope that the outcome does not lead publishers to shy away from manuscripts that editors think are worthwhile but that are about, or even by, people who may be considered contemptible.”

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Ronan Farrow, Allen’s son, who threatened to cut ties with Hachette this week after it announced the memoir, took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to approve of the decision. “I’m grateful to all the Hachette employees and authors who spoke up and to the company for listening,” he wrote.

News of the canceled memoir comes a day after staff at Little, Brown and Co. staged a walkout in protest of the book and in support of its vocal critics, Ronan and Dylan Farrow. Dylan has accused Allen, her adoptive father, of molesting her when she was a child, an allegation he has repeatedly denied. Employees from the imprints Basic, Orbit, Forever and Hachette Books also walked out.

A Times staff member who had emailed the Hachette imprint received an autoreply informing her of the walkout with the message: “We stand with Ronan and Dylan Farrow and survivors of sexual assault.”

In an email statement to The Times on Thursday in response to the walkout, Hachette had said: “We respect and understand the perspective of our employees who have decided to express their concern over the publication of this book. We will engage our staff in a fuller discussion about this at the earliest opportunity.”


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