This past Wednesday, our class had the distinct pleasure of welcoming George Andreou to our guest speaker panel on the publishing business.
Mr. Andreou is currently serving as a Senior Editor and the Vice President of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., a subdivision of the Random House publishing group. After earning his undergraduate degree from Harvard and his graduate degree in literature from Yale, Andreou started as an editorial assistant at Knopf. Since then, he has climbed all the way to the top, working for the same publishing house for over 20 years. As he noted in class, that’s the way the publishing business works: even the greats have to start somewhere!
During this time, Andreou has been the editor of some truly outstanding books. He edited My Name is Red by the great Orhan Pamuk, which directly contributed to Pamuk becoming the bestselling Turkish author of all time and winning the Nobel Prize. You undoubtedly remember the name James Watson from your high school biology textbook (he and his cohort, Crick, discovered DNA), and Andreou edited Watson’s DNA: The Secret of Life. In fact, his work on this history of genetics was so significant that Watson states in his author’s note, “George Andreou, our preternaturally patient editor at Knopf, wrote much more of this book—the good bits—than either of us would ever let on.” The list of literary giants Andreou has guided goes on and on, including V.S. Naipaul, John Keegan, and Adam Gopnik. More recently, he was named the editor of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s upcoming memoir, which millions of readers are awaiting anxiously. Remember, these are all authors that bear Andreou’s personal mark as editor, but as V.P. of Knopf, he helps oversee publishing for scores of household names like Cormac McCarthy, Chuck Palahniuk, and Margaret Atwood.
If you want to hear Andreou’s brilliant intellect and personal connection to his authors in action (a trait further exhibited in a Harvard Crimson piece on author Louis Begley), here’s a video of him moderating a V.S. Naipaul reading.