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Sarah MacLachlan to retire in June, Bruce Walsh named as new publisher at House of Anansi

Sarah MacLachlan

Sarah MacLachlan poses with some of the books and authors she has published in her time at House of Anansi Press.

Big changes are ahead for one of Canada’s premiere domestic publishers. After 16 years, Sarah MacLachlan is retiring as president and publisher of House of Anansi Press and president of Groundwood Books. A press release from the publisher says that MacLachlan will step down at the end of June.

Bruce Walsh, the former publisher of University of Regina Press, has been tapped to replace MacLachlan as publisher of Anansi. Semareh Al-Hillal, currently publisher of Groundwood, will take on the role of Anansi president. “I am honored to be taking on the leadership role at Canada’s largest independent publisher and grateful to Sarah and [owner] Scott [Griffin] for the opportunity,” Al-Hillal says in a statement. Karen Li, formerly editorial director of Owlkids Books, will take over as publisher of Groundwood.

“I have had a life-long love affair with House of Anansi Press, so I am thrilled to join the team as Publisher,” says Walsh in a statement.

Li adds, “It’s honestly an honor to help build upon the ground-breaking and culturally significant legacies of [Groundwood founder] Patsy Aldana and [former publisher] Sheila Barry.”

MacLachlan leaves a legacy of publishing bestselling and award-winning books, including Zoe Whittall’s zeitgeist-defining The Best Kind of People, Lynn Coady’s Scotiabank Giller Prize winner, Hellgoing, and Megan Gail Coles’s current Canada Reads contender, Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. MacLachlan also oversaw the expansion of the press with the genre crime imprint Spiderline, the short-fiction imprint Astoria, and the international imprint Arachnide. Under her leadership Anansi continued to publish the annual Massey Lectures, in conjunction with CBC, and instituted the A List of classic reprints, including books by Margaret Atwood, Anansi co-founders Dennis Lee and Dave Godfrey, Harold Sonny Ladoo, George Grant, and, forthcoming, Austin Clarke.

“Over the years I have had the privilege of working with the most talented creators and the best people in the business,” MacLachlan says in a statement. “I have been truly blessed in my career, and I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this exceptional publishing house.”