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Skyhorse Publishing picks up Blake Bailey’s ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’

A portrait of Blake Bailey, seated and wearing a button-down shirt with rolled-up sleeves.
“Philip Roth: The Biography” was dumped by W.W. Norton after author Blake Bailey was accused of sexual misconduct.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“Philip Roth: The Biography,” a polarizing book that was dumped by W.W. Norton after allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct by author Blake Bailey, has been picked up by Skyhorse Publishing, the latter company announced Monday.

Skyhorse, which previously published Woody Allen’s memoir “Apropos of Nothing” and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s memoir “Disloyal,” promised audio and e-book editions of the Philip Roth book on Wednesday and a paperback version on June 15.

Bailey was dropped by his agent and his previous publisher after several women accused him of “grooming” behavior and sexual assault stemming from friendships that began when he was their eighth-grade English teacher at a charter school in New Orleans. Another woman alleged the writer raped her in 2015 when both were guests at a book critic’s home.

Blake Bailey called allegations of sexual misconduct, which first surfaced at the end of a blog post about his new book, “totally false.”

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After the allegations surfaced, Norton first hit pause on promotion and shipping of the Roth biography, then announced in late April it would take the book out of print, along with Bailey’s memoir “The Splendid Things We Planned.”

“Mr. Bailey will be free to seek publication elsewhere if he chooses,” Norton said in a statement at the time. It also said it would make a six-figure donation to organizations that “fight against sexual assault or harassment and work to protect survivors.”

Bailey has denied all allegations against him.

How Skyhorse Publishing became a house of last resort for Dershowtiz, Keillor, anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers — and a cancellation target itself.

His lawyer, Billy Gibbens of New Orleans law firm Schonekas, Evans, McGoey and McEachin, said in a late April statement to The Times that “Norton made the drastic, unilateral decision to take Mr. Bailey’s books out of print, based on the false and unsubstantiated allegations against him, without undertaking any investigation or offering Mr. Bailey the opportunity to refute the allegations. Mr. Bailey’s European publishers wisely have not taken such a rash course of action, and Norton’s knee-jerk reaction is troubling and unwarranted.”

Skyhorse quoted the Authors Guild’s reaction to W.W. Norton de-platforming Bailey in its statement announcing it would publish his latest work.

In part, the quote reads: “The answer to suppression of expression and ideas isn’t greater or responsive suppression, but greater public debate, which is silenced when a publisher prevents readers from reading a book and forming their opinions. A book is larger than its author; it is an addition to the often-contention public record for posterity.”


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