Zola Mashariki has joined Audible as head of Audible Studios, overseeing the creation of original content, based in Los Angles and reporting to Rachel Ghiazza. Mashariki was most recently chief content officer for One Community (fka Good Films).
Danny Vazquez has been promoted to editor at Astra House.
Gracie Elliott has been promoted to associate editor, children’s at Workman. Shirley Ortiz has been promoted to executive director of customer service and fulfillment across all Workman Publishing imprints.
At Amazon Publishing, Dennelle Catlett has been promoted to senior PR manager. Ashley Vanicek and Brittany Russell have each been promoted to publicity lead.
Tisha Paul has joined Random House Children’s as managing editor. She was previously a senior production manager and international liaison for digital editions at Men’s Journal.
Jess Verdi has joined Crazy Maple Studio as acquisitions and developmental editor, focusing on romance, thrillers, and suspense. Previously, she was senior editor at Crimson Romance.
Ana Ban has joined Trident Media Group as a foreign rights agent, reporting to Nora Rawn. She was previously contracts & rights manager at The Experiment.
John Pitts will retire from Doubleday on May 1 after 35 years with the company. Maya Mavjee thanks Pitts “for his substantial contributions and remarkable devotion to Doubleday” — as does author John Grisham: “It is difficult to imagine publishing a book without the involvement of John Pitts. John was always ‘in the room.’ Always with fresh ideas, and new marketing strategies, and even editorial comment on the sly. I listened to John with every book. He will be missed not only as an integral team player, but as a loyal friend.”
Reese Witherspoon chose Flynn Berry‘s Northern Spy as the April Reese’s Book Club pick. (Like the month’s GMA Book Club selection by Gabriela Garcia, Berry was also featured in our virtual Buzz Books Editors Panel in January.)
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney‘s Good Company is Jenna Bush Hager’s Read With Jenna April pick. (Also available to sample now in Buzz Books.)
Penguin Random House UK is the focus of negative press following a story in the Times noting that the company has declined to repay to the UK government approximately £1 million received last spring as part of the furlough support program — even after PRH reported operating EBITDA of €691 million for 2020, up 23 percent over 2019.
A PRH spokesperson said: “We have used the government’s furlough scheme for its intended purpose: to protect jobs during this extraordinary time.” As the BBC notes, “Companies are under no obligation to repay the taxpayer cash they receive through the government’s job retention scheme, but they have been urged to do so if they can afford it.” Bloomsbury and Pan Macmillan are among the publishers who have announced that they have repaid the government.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride won the inaugural $50,000 Gotham Book Prize. The City We Became by N.K. Jemison, Luster by Raven Leilani, and You Again by Debra Jo Immergut received honorable mention.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.
The Cullman Center announced the new class of Cullman Center Fellows, including poet Michael Prior, and fiction writers David Wright Faladé, Jonas Hassen Khemiri, Maaza Mengiste, Josephine Rowe, and Madeleine Thien.
N+1 magazine is launching the Anthony Veasna So Fiction Prize, an annual $5,000 award, named after the late author, “granted to an outstanding fiction writer whose work has appeared in n+1.” The inaugural winner will be named in the coming weeks.