A national bestseller, Hothouse is a “wonderful” (New York Review of Books), “valuable” (The New Yorker), cultural history, “a ripping read about the eminent publishing house Farrar, Straus & Giroux” (The Boston Globe).
Farrar, Straus & Giroux is arguably the most influential publishing house of the modern era. Home to an unrivaled twenty-five Nobel Prize winners and generation-defining authors like Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen, it’s a cultural institution whose importance approaches that of The New York Times. But FSG is no ivory tower—and its untold story is as engrossing as many of the great novels it has published.
Boris Kachka reveals the era and the city that built FSG through the stories of two men: founder-owner Roger Straus, the black sheep of his German-Jewish family, and the reticent, closeted editor Robert Giroux, who rose from working-class New Jersey to discover the novelists and poets who helped define American culture. Giroux became one of T.S. Eliot’s best friends and played caretaker to manic-depressive geniuses like Robert Lowell, John Berryman, and Jack Kerouac. Straus, the showman, made Susan Sontag a star, kept Edmund Wilson out of prison, and turned Isaac Bashevis Singer into a Nobelist.
After giving us a fresh perspective on the postwar authors we thought we knew, Kachka exposes how elite publishing works today. He gets inside the editorial meetings where writers’ fates are decided; he captures the adrenaline rush of bidding wars for top talent; and he lifts the lid on the high-stakes pursuit of that rarest commodity, public attention—including a fly-on-the-wall account of the confrontation between Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Franzen.
Hothouse is the product of five years of research and nearly 200 interviews by a veteran New York magazine writer. It shares “a thrilling look at the heyday of the publishing industry” (Entertainment Weekly) and illuminates the vital intellectual center of the American Century.
Boris Kachka in the author of Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House. He is the Books Editor at New York magazine, where he has also been a writer covering books, theater, film, and other cultural industries and personalities for many years. He has also contributed to the New York Times, GQ, Elle, T, and Condé Nast Traveler. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and son.
What People are Saying About This
author of I Was Told There'd Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number - Sloane Crosley
“Boris Kachka would have you believe that Hothouse is the inside story of book publishing as told through the prism of that industry’s original odd couple. Do not believe him. Do not be fooled by the wonderful stories of famous authors, editors, and publishers. Here instead is a sneakily informative view of how art gets made in America, a fresh look at the intersection of commerce and culture.”
author of Cheever: A Life - Blake Bailey
“As a literary biographer, I’m amazed this book hasn’t been written yet in some form, and we can only be grateful that the matter rested until such a stylish, insightful author as Kachka came along to write it. It reminds me of another of my favorite books, Brendan Gill’s Here at The New Yorker—full of sad/funny anecdotes about living, breathing human beings, namely (in both cases) nothing less than the major figures in twentieth century American literature. At the center of both books, too, are two fascinating, polar-opposite protagonists: New Yorker editors Harold Ross and William Shawn in Gill’s book, and the flamboyant, Ascot-wearing Roger Straus and his fastidious editor-in-chief, Robert Giroux, in Kachka’s. What all four of these deeply strange men had in common was a love of good writing and a genius for eliciting same from the fortunate authors in their charge. Hothouse is a must-read for anyone curious about the secret history of American publishing in the postwar era.”
“Hothouse is a wonderful book—a sharp look at the backstory of a famous publishing house and the flamboyant man who got as much attention as the writers he usually got cheap. Bravo!”
author of True Believers - Kurt Andersen
“Astounding: an intelligent, knowing, beautifully written, spectacularly well-reported (read: gratifyingly gossipy) chronicle of the ultimate old-school book publisher. If you want a sense of how big-time, high-end New York publishing used to work and works today, I can't imagine a finer, more authoritative guide.”
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