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Remembering Roger Straus

Legendary American publisher Roger Straus died this week at the age of 87. The New York Times has a thorough recap of his career as co-founder of the influential house Farrar, Straus & Giroux, which seemed to publish nearly every major U.S. author at some point or another. (Now if The New Yorker would just put that 2002 profile of Straus up on its website…)

Straus’s death reverberated here in Canada as well. “I’m honoured to have been able to work with him a little bit,” says Scott McIntyre, whose firm Douglas & McIntyre has represented FSG in Canada since 1997. (Straus stepped down from active duties at FSG two years ago.) “He was everything that an independent publisher should be,” says McIntyre, noting that Straus’s early emphasis on European authors ran counter to conventional wisdom of the time. “The publishing establishment in New York after the [Second World] War was still very Yankee.”

HarperCollins Canada president David Kent met Straus in the mid-1970s and calls him “one of the great publishers of the century.” In 1989, Kent arrived at the Frankfurt Book Fair after three weeks on the job as president of Doubleday Canada. En route to meet his new colleagues at the Bertelsmann booth, he bumped into Straus. “He walked me around the room and introduced me to all the publishers and presidents,” says Kent. “It gave me instant credibility, way beyond what my position and experience were. He did that spontaneously, out of a reflex generosity.”

Readers who encountered Straus themselves — or who simply admired his work — are invited to post their own comments here. To do so, click on the “Add Comment” link.

Related links:
New York Times story on the life of Roger Straus