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Viking Vice President and Executive Editor Paul Slovak was honored with the Poets & Writers 2016 Editor’s Award on Tuesday night in New York. Warm congratulations to Paul. He embodies every aspect of this award, which recognizes an individual who has “made an outstanding contribution to the publication of poetry or literary prose over a sustained period of time.” Viking Vice President and Editor in Chief Andrea Schulz concurred — “Paul has made a substantial contribution to the Viking and Penguin lists and, indeed, to American literature, with his acuity of judgment, his passionate advocacy, and his steadfast faith in his remarkable list of writers”— in her message on Igloo, posted when this honor was first announced last November.
Penguin Random House has been a longstanding supporter of Poets & Writers and was well-represented at this event, where Paul was surrounded by many of his closest literary colleagues from over the years, including such Viking/Penguin authors as Sue Monk Kidd, whose introductory remarks included these wonderful words: “When I started to think about how to describe my experience working with Paul, the first word that came to my mind was brilliant. Paul brings a prodigious amount of smarts to the table, and I’m not just talking about his intellect, his knowledge or his logistical thinking, I’m also talking about his very intuitive and inventive wisdom. The other word that comes to me when I think about Paul is thoughtful. He’s one of the most thoughtful people that I know, and by this I mean that he also brings a lot of sensitivity and availability and attentiveness to his authors, so his exceptional brilliance and his exceptional thoughtfulness combined with his very tranquil demeanor is just an exquisite combination. And I think it has helped my own writing to flourish, whether it’s writing about something that keeps me up at night like American slavery or whether it’s pursuing an idea for my next novel that is patently insane, I take comfort in knowing that Paul is there.”
In accepting the Editor’s Award, Paul was clearly moved, saying, in part, “I wouldn’t be standing here tonight if it wasn’t for the amazing authors that I’ve worked with over the last two decades. I feel very blessed about that; it’s not a word I use very often, by the way. To a one, they are writers who have very exuberant, distinctive voices, who are not afraid to take risks, who are interested in finding new and compelling ways of telling stories with fresh and surprising ways of imagining character … Nothing has been more gratifying to me than helping to bring these authors and their books into the world and working with them to shape their writing, and ensure that every word and every line they put to the page is exactly the right one. As all of you in this room know, publishing books that might be of permanent importance rather than ephemeral interest–to steal a line from the founding creed of Viking Press–has and will continue to be a challenge. But I feel like there has never been a better time to be an editor, I feel like there are as many great writers working today as we have ever seen and a wonderful flowering of all the communities that support them.”