Royalty-maker editor interviewed

LitHub talks to Peter Blackstock, the editor behind the last two Booker Prize winners. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

I love having a list that reflects the world, and you don’t have to sacrifice on quality to do so, in fact, quite the opposite. I want my list to reflect both the American experience, particularly of people who are marginalized by societal power, and the broader world beyond the States. I can’t imagine not publishing books in translation, or not publishing novels that take chances in their form or style, from Akwaeke Emezi’s Freshwater to Jean-Baptiste del Amo’s Animalia to Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other.

Regarding editing, each book requires a different editorial approach, sometimes I suggest quite a lot of work, sometimes less, but one constant is that all of my edits are just suggestions for the author or translator to consider. I don’t acquire pieces of fiction that I wouldn’t be proud to publish in their current form, but I do feel that the editor’s role is in part to act as a counterpoint to the author and suggest things (including stupid ideas—I make at least one of those every edit!) that might spark a different direction or help underline a resonant moment of the story. I don’t write myself, so consider each manuscript a little miracle, and worry sometimes about somehow spoiling the magic with an edit. But in my experience the author always knows what is a good edit and what is a bad edit and takes only the good (and forgives the editor for anything stupid!)

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