Ursula K. Le Guin, 88, died January 22 at her home in Portland, Oregon. Her son, Theo Downes-Le Guin, told the NYT “she had been in poor health for several months” but did not specify a cause of death. Le Guin was the author of more than 20 novels, including the “Earthsea” series and The Left Hand of Darkness, as well as collections of poetry, short stories, and essays. Her most recent work, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at the end of 2017, was No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters. Her editor, Naomi Gibbs, said in a statement: ““Working with Ursula was a privilege, an honor, and a tremendous joy for me, and for many here at HMH and elsewhere in the industry. She was an unparalleled writer who lived an extraordinary life. She’s leaving behind an incomparable body of work, and her remarkable spirit.”
Le Guin’s agent, Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown (who will continue to represent the estate), commented: “What amazes me about Ursula is not just the brilliance of her actual writing, but how she could write any type of story brilliantly. She wrote non-fiction and fiction. She wrote children’s books for all ages–picture books, middle grade and young adult. She has been most famous for her science fiction and fantasy novels, but consider that most of the famous genre writers tend to favor either SF or fantasy. She favored both. She wrote poetry, and she wrote criticism. She wrote novels and novelettes and short stories. She translated several works by other authors. She could write anything and she could write it better than almost anyone. It was Curtis Brown’s enormous honor to be her agency, and my distinct pleasure to receive hilarious emails from her regularly. The world is a dimmer place without her.”
Roberta Pressel, senior designer at Roaring Brook Press and FSG Children’s, died January 22 after a long illness. A service will be held on January 26. In lieu of flowers, any donations to either Deaf West Theatre or the Helen Keller Center in Roberta’s name are greatly appreciated.
In personnel news, Becky Koh has been promoted to publishing director of Black Dog & Leventhal.
Andrew DeSio has joined Fortier Public Relations as associate director of publicity. Previously, he was director of publicity at Princeton University Press, where he spent the past 17 years.
At Random House Children’s, Michelle Nagler has been promoted to vice president, associate publishing director, and Frances Gilbert has been promoted to editor in chief of Doubleday and Golden Books.
Bridget Watson Payne has been promoted to executive editor, art, at Chronicle Books.