Authors are sharing their memories of Sonny Mehta, the longtime editor-in-chief of Random House imprint Alfred A. Knopf, who died on Monday of complications from pneumonia.
“He loved the world and his loved ones, and was a great champion of good books in particular and of humane culture in general,” Irish novelist John Banville tells the New York Times. “He would have wished us better times ahead. I shall miss him to the end.”
“Sonny was always smart and kind and friendly,” Jane Smiley adds. “Maybe what I am most grateful for is that he let me do what I wanted to do…I was very fond of him, and will miss him so!”
At the Washington Post, biographer Wil Haygood recalls that Mehta was fond of telling people that he “felt like he had the best job in America.”
“He found new talent,” Haygood writes. “He showed vision. He had faith in writers. What to make of a man who published both Bill Clinton and E.L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame? Who published both Tony Blair and Bret Easton Ellis?
Also at the Post, author Sarah Weinman writes that Mehta “indelibly shaped U.S. and world culture.”
“Mehta was a gentleman, an exemplary publisher and a great reader,” Weinman writes. “Both the authors who must go on without him, and the readers who will no longer be able to benefit from his love of books, will miss him terribly.”
Michael Schaub is an Austin, Texas–based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.