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Publisher pulls Philip Roth biography, cuts ties with author

"Philip Roth: The Biography," by Blake Bailey, was

"Philip Roth: The Biography," by Blake Bailey, was published in early April. Credit: W.W. Norton via AP

The publisher of a highly anticipated and widely discussed biography of Philip Roth is pulling the book and cutting ties with author Blake Bailey, who faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault. W.W. Norton and Company previously released Bailey's memoir "The Splendid Things We Planned."

"Norton is permanently putting out of print our editions of ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’ and ‘The Splendid Things We Planned,’ Blake Bailey’s 2014 memoir," the publisher announced Tuesday. "Mr. Bailey will be free to seek publication elsewhere if he chooses. In addition, Norton will make a donation in the amount of the book advance for ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’ to organizations that fight against sexual assault or harassment and work to protect survivors."

The stunning decision follows reports last week from The New York Times, The New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Associated Press among others that Bailey, who in the 1990s taught eighth grade English in New Orleans, had behaved inappropriately with students and later sought sexual relationships. Two former students and a publishing executive have alleged that he assaulted them. Bailey was quickly dropped by his literary agency, the Story Factory, and Norton announced last week that it would pause publication and publicity as it reviewed allegations.

Norton has acknowledged being contacted, anonymously, by a woman in 2018 who alleged that Bailey had assaulted her three years earlier. The publisher never responded directly to the email, sent by Bloomsbury sales and marketing vice president Valentina Rice, and instead forwarded it to Bailey. Rice first went public with her allegations last week in The New York Times and confirmed her account with the AP.

Bailey, whose Roth book came out in early April, has denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Billy Gibbens, condemned Norton, while noting that "Philip Roth" is still being sold overseas.

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