View Full Version : The World According to Andrew Wylie

William Haskins
12-18-2007, 04:58 AM
great interview.

The literary agent who has rewritten several chapters of the book publishing business stands up for his writers, elitism, and Amazon.com (but not the Kindle).

New York literary agent Andrew Wylie seems perfectly happy to be known as "the Jackal"—the nickname that sticks even though he obtained it years ago in Britain during a publishing dustup whose baroque details have largely faded from memory. He's equally unruffled when book editors and rival agents call him an "evil madman," a "cold-eyed predator," and a "monster."

The 59-year-old Wylie, more famous than many of the 600-plus authors he represents, has devoted his career to shaking up the once-genteel book business on both sides of the Atlantic by doing things that just weren't done—stealing writers from fellow agents, demanding and receiving outrageous advances, and otherwise making a huge pain of himself in the service of his clients. (He became the Jackal in the course of securing a previously unheard-of $750,000 advance for Martin Amis, who—in an alleged act of betrayal that was the stuff of tabloid melodrama—retained Wylie after dumping his longtime agent, the wife of his best friend, fellow novelist Julian Barnes.)

Today Wylie's stable of thoroughbreds, living and dead, also includes Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Philip Roth, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and many others who constitute a who's who of the planet's best writers.http://www.portfolio.com/views/columns/the-world-according-to/2007/12/14/An-Interview-With-Andrew-Wylie#page1


Will Lavender
12-18-2007, 06:41 AM
Fascinating interview.

I especially found the stuff about "poaching" other agents' clients interesting. Also, his point about the smallness of the book industry is one to note. I was just in New York, and a man who's a higher-up at Crown/Random House said the same thing. People talk about "commercial literature" vs. "literary lit" a lot, but in all reality, if you throw out Da Vinci and JKR, it's all pretty small if you look at the number of people who actually spend their money on books.

12-18-2007, 10:55 PM
Wow, thanks for the post, Wm.