When John O’Brien passed away on November 21, 2020 at the age of 75, he left behind one of the most singular publishing legacies of all time. Known for his keen editorial vision, unwavering belief in innovative literature, and his anger, John O’Brien was awarded the National Book Critics Circle’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 and was Knighted in 2015 as part of the French Ordre des Arts et Lettres, but his true legacy is the nearly 1,000 book collection he created over 40 years of publishing.
As a friend, former employee, and current editorial curator, I’m going to use this newsletter to explore Dalkey Archive Press: its history as a nonprofit press, its role in upending ideas about literature and the marketplace, and its ongoing impact on literary culture. Interviews, excerpts, investigations, anecdotes, analysis—this newsletter will go in a number of different directions, with each “episode” organized around a specific idea or set of books.
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