Maxwell E. Perkins Award
Perkins Award Past Winners



Ajai Singh "Sonny" Mehta is Editor in Chief of Alfred A. Knopf Publishers. He is also Chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, which includes Knopf, Doubleday, Nan A. Talese, Pantheon, Schocken, Vintage/Anchor, and Everyman's Library.

Since his arrival at Knopf in 1987, Sonny has maintained and enhanced the house's international reputation for literature and bookmaking of the highest quality. He is also highly regarded for his innovative direction of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, particularly for the complete redesign and expansion of Vintage Books. Long a quality trade paperback publisher, it is now the leader in its field. In 1991, he orchestrated the relaunch of Everyman's Library—one of the most extensive and distinguished libraries of classics in the world—in beautifully printed, affordable hardcover editions. During his time at Knopf, Sonny has worked with and published many notable authors, including John Banville, Bill Buford, Peter Carey, Bill Clinton, William Dalrymple, Katherine Dunn, James Ellroy, Nora Ephron, Katharine Graham, Robert Harris, Carl Hiaasen, Kazuo Ishiguro, P. D. James, Stieg Larsson, Rohinton Mistry, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jo Nesbo, Michael Ondaatje,  Graham Swift, and Anne Tyler. Under Mehta’s watch, Knopf has published Toni Morrison, V.S. Naipaul, Alice Munro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Russo, Orhan Pamuk, Anne Rice, and Cormac McCarthy, among others. 

Under Sonny's leadership, Knopf Doubleday authors have been awarded 34 Pulitzer Prizes, 12 National Book Awards, 30 National Book Critics Circle Awards, 6 Man Booker Prizes, and 3 Nobel Prizes. In 2011, the London Book Fair presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in international publishing.

Born in India in 1942, Sonny was educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar, and at Cambridge University. Prior to joining Knopf, he worked with such notable authors as Ryszard Kapuscinski, Germaine Greer, and Douglas Adams. He began his publishing career in London as an Editorial Assistant at Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd., before going on to found Paladin Books. Following that, he was Editorial Director of Granada Paperbacks, comprising the Panther, Mayflower, and Paladin imprints. In 1972, he served as Editorial Director and, later, Publishing Director of Pan Books, where he was instrumental in establishing the highly successful Picador trade paperback imprint.

watch carl hiaasen's speech

(Starts 18:20)


watch Sonny Mehta's speech

(Starts 28:00)







Morgan Entrekin was born in 1955, and grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. After graduating from Stanford and the Radcliffe Publishing Course, he joined Delacorte Press in 1977, where he worked with such authors as Kurt Vonnegut, Nick Tosches and Richard Brautigan. In 1982 he moved to Simon & Schuster, where he acquired books by Alan Furst, Bret Easton Ellis, and Dr. Michael Debakey. 


In 1984, he left to start his own imprint at Atlantic Monthly Press. Over 40 titles were published under the Morgan Entrekin Books/Atlantic Monthly Press imprint, including books by P.J. O’Rourke, Rian Malan, Richard Preston, Ron Chernow, George Plimpton and Francisco Goldman. 


In 1991, Morgan acquired, with a group of investors, Atlantic Monthly Press. In 1993, he merged the company with Grove Press, publisher of Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs, Harold Pinter, Kenzaburo Oe and Tom Stoppard, among others. Entrekin is currently the CEO and Publisher of Grove Atlantic, Inc., which publishes 120 books a year ranging from general nonfiction, current affairs, history, biography, and narrative journalism to fiction, drama, and poetry.  


Morgan’s roster of authors includes: Sherman Alexie, Mark Bowden, Candace Bushnell, Robert Olen Butler, Anne Enright, Richard Flanagan, Tim Flannery, Julia Franck, Aminatta Forna, Dagoberto Gilb, Francisco Goldman, Barry Hannah, Jim Harrison, Sheri Holman, Ivan Klima, Yan Lianke, Donna Leon, Karl Marlantes, Val McDermid, Catherine Millet, PJ O’Rourke, Will Self and Michael Tolkin.    


In 2015, Morgan launched the Literary Hub, a website that features original content from over 180 partners including publishers large and small, literary journals, not-for-profits, and booksellers.


He was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Francisco Goldman at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 5, 2017. 


Watch Francisco Goldman's Speech

(Starts 10:09)


Watch Morgan Entrekin's Speech

(Starts 26:35)





Eric Simonoff was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up across the Delaware River in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He studied classics at Princeton University. Five days after graduating in 1989 he began his first job in publishing as editorial assistant to 2009 Maxwell Perkins Award recipient Gerry Howard. In 1991 he joined the literary agency Janklow & Nesbit Associates where he eventual rose to become Managing Director. In 2009 he moved to the William Morris Agency (which shortly thereafter became WME) to co-run their global book department. He has served on the board of directors of the City of New York Graduate Center and currently is a member of the board of directors of Poets & Writers Organization.


Among the clients he represents are Jhumpa Lahiri (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Interpreter of Maladies), Phil Klay (winner of the National Book Award for Redeployment), Edward P. Jones (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Known World), Karen E. Bender (National Book Award finalist for Refund), Kate Walbert (National Book Award finalist for Our Kind), Jonathan Lethem (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Motherless Brooklyn), ZZ Packer (chosen by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American writers under 40 and a PEN/Faulkner finalist for Drinking Coffee Elsewhere), Chris Adrian (selected by The New Yorker for the same list), Daniel Alarcon (also on The New Yorker’s list and winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for War by Candlelight), Philipp Meyer (another on The New Yorker’s list and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for The Son), Joseph Boyden (winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize for Through Black Spruce), Vikram Chandra (winner of the David Higham Award and the Commonwealth Writers Award for Red Earth and Pouring Rain), Stacy Schiff (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Vera), Nam Le (winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for The Boat), Sam Lipsyte (winner of the Believer Book Award for Home Land),Yaa Gyasi (author of the forthcoming debut novel Homegoing), in addition to bestselling authors Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Walter Kirn, Mary-Louise Parker, Susan Casey, James Frey, Trenton Lee Stewart, Amanda Vaill, Danielle Trussoni, Calvin Trillin, James Bradley, Ben Mezrich, Buzz Bissinger, Karen Thompson Walker, and many others.

He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the literary agent Meredith Kaffel Simonoff, and their kids Ash and Lucy.


Eric Simonoff was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Jonathan Lethem at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 6, 2016.


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watch eric simonoff's speech

(His speech starts at 14:17)





Daniel Halpern was born in Syracuse, New York, grew up in Los Angeles and Seattle, and has lived in Tangier, Morocco, New York City and Princeton. He is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently Something Shining. For 25 years, Halpern edited the international literary magazine Antaeus, which he founded in Tangier with Paul Bowles.


Halpern has received numerous grants and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the 1993 PEN Publisher Citation. In 2009, he received the first “Editor’s Award,” given by Poets and Writers, which recognizes a book editor who has made an outstanding contribution to the publication of poetry or literary prose over a sustained period of time. From 1975 to 1995 he taught in the graduate writing program of Columbia University, which he chaired for many years. He has also taught at The New School for Social Research and Princeton University. And in 1978, with James A. Michener, he founded The National Poetry Series, which oversees the publication of five books of poetry every year.


Halpern is publisher and president of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. He lives in New York and Princeton, New Jersey, with his wife, the writer Jeanne Wilmot, and their daughter Lily. Among the authors he has worked with at both Ecco and Antaeus are Cormac McCarthy, Louise Gluck, Richard Ford, Anthony Bourdain, Joyce Carol Oates, Amy Tan, Tom Robbins, Jorie Graham, Philipp Meyer, Leonard Cohen, Lawrence Durrell, John Fowles, Russell Banks, Robert Stone, Patti Smith, Tobias Wolff, Charles Simic, Italo Calvino, Paul Bowles, Pete Dexter, Gay Talese, Erica Jong, Vendela Vida, T.C. Boyle, Jorge Luis Borges, John Ashbery, William Burroughs, William T. Vollmann, Tennessee Williams, Nell Freudenberger, Mark Strand, Natasha Trethewey, and many others.


The award was presented to Mr. Halpern by Amy Tan at the Center’s December 8, 2015 Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City. Upon the announcement Mr. Halpern said: “It is an honor to be recognized for doing what makes you happiest—for me, publishing fiction by some of the finest writers an editor (and reader) could imagine working with. But to be recognized by The Center for Fiction—an organization that supports and celebrates the art of fiction in so many important ways—is the true honor.”



(Her speech starts at 11:36)


WATCH Daniel Halpern's SPEECH

(His speech starts at 27:21)





Nicole Aragi was born in Libya, raised in Lebanon, later moving to England where she gained a history degree from the University of London. She owned a small independent bookstore in London for 8 years before moving to the US where she worked for Gloria Loomis of Watkins Loomis as an assistant - gradually building her own list of authors. In 2002 she set up her own agency, Aragi Inc., representing a mix of fiction writers, graphic novelists and some narrative nonfiction.

Fiction writers represented by Ms. Aragi include Junot Díaz, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Edwidge Danticat, winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir Brother, I’m Dying; Julie Otsuka, 2012 PEN/Faulkner winner for The Buddha in the Attic; Pulitzer finalists Nathan Englander, Denis Johnson, and Colson Whitehead; Anne Carson, a 1998 nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry; Hannah Tinti, winner of The Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize in 2008 for The Good Thief; Claire Vaye Watkins whose debut collection Battleborn won the 2013 Story Prize; bestselling graphic novelist Chris Ware; debut author and current Cullman Fellow Rajesh Parameswaran; and bestselling authors Jonathan Safran Foer, Aleksandar Hemon, Rebecca Makkai, and Brady Udall.


Nicole Aragi was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Nathan Englander at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 9, 2014.


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Robin Desser has worked at the Knopf Publishing Group since 1998 and this year was named Vice President, Editorial Director of Alfred A. Knopf.


Among the critically acclaimed and bestselling books and authors with whom she has worked, first at Vintage, where she served for eight years, and then at Knopf, are many notable debuts: Lorraine Adams’s Harbor; Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street; Edwidge Danticat’s Breath, Eyes, Memory; Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior; Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha; Amy Greene’s Bloodroot; David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars; Nam Le’s The Boat; Daniel Mason’s The Piano Tuner; and Esmeralda Santiago’s When I Was Puerto Rican.


Robin Desser was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Edwidge Danticat at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 11, 2013.



(Her speech starts at 13:55)


watch robin desser's speech

(Her speech starts at 21:15)




Deborah Treisman became Fiction Editor of The New Yorker in 2003, after serving for five years as the magazine’s Deputy Fiction Editor. At The New Yorker, she has edited work by, among others, Julian Barnes, T. C. Boyle, Edwidge Danticat, E. L. Doctorow, Jennifer Egan, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Mary Gaitskill, Ian McEwan, Thomas McGuane, Steven Millhauser, Lorrie Moore, Alice Munro,  Haruki Murakami, Joyce Carol Oates, Salman Rushdie, George Saunders, David Foster Wallace, and Tobias Wolff, as well as introducing to the magazine such writers as Daniel Alarcón, Jonathan Safran Foer, Tessa Hadley, Aleksandar Hemon, Nicole Krauss, Colum McCann, C. E. Morgan, and Colm Tóibín.


Previously, she was the managing editor of Grand Street, and has been a member of the editorial staffs of The New York Review of Books, Harper’s, and The Threepenny Review. Her translations of Francophone writers, including Patrick Chamoiseau, Marguerite Duras, and Tahar Ben Jelloun, have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and Grand Street. She is the host of the award-winning New Yorker Fiction Podcast, the editor of the anthology 20 Under 40: Stories from The New Yorker (Farrar, Straus, 2010), and a Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.


Ms. Treisman was born in Oxford, England, and attended the University of California at Berkeley. She lives with her husband and two daughters in New York City. 


Deborah Treisman was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Ian McEwan at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 11, 2012.


WATCH Ian mcewan's SPEech

(His speech starts at 12:30)


WATCH deborah treisman'S SPEECH

(Her speech starts at 25:00)





Nan Graham received her B.A. in English from Yale University in 1977 and an honorary doctorate from Marymount Manhattan College in 1997. She has worked in publishing since 1980—for five years at Pantheon Books and for ten years at Viking Penguin where she was the Executive Editor. Since 1994, she has been the Editor-in-Chief of Scribner.


Nan has edited writers of fiction, memoir, sociology, history and psychology – and many of their books have won National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and other major awards. She has worked on many memoirs, including Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club, Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle, Alexandra Styron’s Reading My Father, and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Living History. Other non-fiction includes Andrew Solomon’s National Book Award winner, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression and Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Pulitzer Prize winner, The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer.


She has published Don Delillo for over twenty years, and brought him to Scribner with his 1997 novel Underworld. She has developed long-time relationships with acclaimed authors such as Annie Proulx, Amy Hempel, Ann Beattie, Kate Walbert and Colm Toibin, and introduced new writers such as Monica Ali, Dana Spiotta, Anthony Doerr, Rachel Kushner, Belinda McKeon, and Miranda July. She has worked with Stephen King for fifteen years.


Nan is on the board of the International Freedom to Publish Committee, where she served as Chair from 1998 through 2004, and is on the board of the New School Writing Program. She and the novelist Mark Costello have two children.


Nan Graham was presented with the Maxwell E. Perkins Award by Don DeLillo at The Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner on December 6, 2011.


WATCH don delillo's SPEECH

(His speech starts at 2:13)







Amanda Urban joined ICM as a literary agent in 1980, and was named Co-Director of the Literary Department in 1988. She simultaneously served as Managing Director of ICM Books in London from 2002 to 2008, and is currently an ICM Executive Vice President. Prior to joining ICM, she was General Manager of New York Magazine and The Village Voice, and Editorial Manager of Esquire Magazine. She represents Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors such as Dexter Filkins, Richard Ford, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Cormac McCarthy, Jon Meacham, Steven Millhauser, Toni Morrison, Anna Quindlen, and James B. Stewart, in addition to numerous bestselling authors, such as Eric Anderson, Marie Brenner, Dominique Browning, Peter Carey, Ellen Chesler, Jonathan Dee, E. L. Doctorow, Bruce Duffy, Nora Ephron, Nell Freudenberger, Tad Friend, Alan Furst, Francisco Goldman, Jane Hamilton, Kathryn Harrison, Zoe Heller, Michael Idov, Walter Isaacson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Joseph Kanon, Mary Karr, Chip Kidd, Christopher Krovatin, Chang-rae Lee, Mark Leyner, Bobbie Ann Mason, Jay McInerney, Haruki Murakami, Marisha Pessl, Michael Pollan, James Salter, Orville Schell, John Burnham Schwartz, Mona Simpson, Michael Specter, Donna Tartt, Steven Weisman, Edmund White, Tobias Wolff and Koren Zailckas.  A number of her books have spawned movies, including the recent Oscar-winning films No Country for Old Men and Crazy Heart, as well as plays such as The Elephant Vanishes and “Sunset Limited, and musicals such as Ragtime.





Gerry Howard, Vice President, Executive Editor, Doubleday. Gerry has been with Doubleday since 1998. In his tenure at Doubleday, he has worked with Kate Christensen, Walter Kirn, Chuck Palahniuk, Bill Bryson, and Gore Vidal. In his long career, Howard has also edited such eminent authors as David Foster Wallace, Gordon Lish, Larry Heinemann, Irvine Welsh, Don Delillo, Rafi Zabor, James Welch, Leon Forest, Ana Castillo, William S. Burroughs, A.R. Ammons, Walter Mosley and William Kennedy. In 2001, Gerry received the PEN/Roger Klein Award for Editing.








Jonathan Galassi became an editor in the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Company in 1973.  He was a senior editor at Random House from 1981 to 1986, when he joined Farrar, Straus and Giroux as vice-president and executive editor. He was named editor-in-chief of FSG in 1988, executive vice-president in 1993, publisher in 1999, and president of the firm in January 2002.  


Among the authors Mr. Galassi has worked with at FSG are: Michael Cunningham, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Ian Frazier, Thomas L. Friedman, Nadine Gordimer, David Grossman, Shirley Hazzard, Seamus Heaney, Jamaica Kincaid, William Langeweische, Alice McDermott, John McPhee, Louis Menand, Marilynne Robinson, George Packer, Robert Pinsky, Susan Sontag, Calvin Trillin, Mario Vargas Llosa, Scott Turow, Derek Walcott, C. K. Williams, Tom Wolfe, and Charles Wright. Mr. Galassi won the P.E.N./Roger Klein Award for Editing in 1984 and the LMP Editor’s Award in 1990

Mr. Galassi has published two books of poems: Morning Run (Paris Review Editions, 1988) and North Street (HarperCollins, 2000). He has also translated several volumes of  the work of the Italian poet Eugenio Montale and was poetry editor of The Paris Review between 1978 and 1987.  He has also won the John Ciardi Award in Poetry from the Italian American Foundation (1999), the Premio Montale for translation (1999), and the Weidenfeld Translation Prize (1999).  Mr. Galassi was president of the Academy of  American Poets from 1994 to 1999.




Drenka Willen joined Harcourt as a translator and freelance editor in the nineteen-sixties. She took over day-to-day duties for the Helen & Kurt Wolff imprint in 1981. She is currently a Senior Editor. Among the authors and translators she has worked with are Günter Grass, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Stanislaw Lem, Octavio Paz, Wisława Szymborska, José Saramago, Irving Howe, Ryszard Kapuściński, Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua, Yehuda Amichai, Edward Gorey, Wendy Wasserstein, George Konrád, Charles Simic, Bohumil Hrabal, Cees Nooteboom, Breyten Breytenbach, James Kelman, Paul Klebnikov, Milovan Djilas, Tomaž Šalamun, Danilo Kiš, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Antonio Muñoz Molina, David Albahari, Andrew Miller, Claire Messud, Andrew O’Hagan, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Ralph Manheim, William Weaver, Edith Grossman, Margaret Jull Costa, Krishna Winston, Clare Cavanagh, Stanisław Barańczak, and Geoffrey Brock. Their honors include the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, Poet Laureate of the United States, the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the E.M.Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Booker Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Award, and the PEN Translation Prize.




Gary Fisketjon served from 1980 to 1986 as an editor at Random House and Vintage Books, from 1986 to 1990 as Editorial Director of the Atlantic Monthly Press, and since then as Editor-at-Large and Vice President of Alfred A. Knopf Publishers. Among the writers he has worked with are Julian Barnes, Peter Carey, Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, Michael Doane, Andre Dubus, Bret Easton Ellis, Richard Ford, David Gates, Martha Gellhorn, Kent Haruf, Patricia Highsmith, Margot Livesey, Cormac McCarthy, Jay McInerney, Haruki Murakami, Redmond O’Hanlon, Mona Simpson, Graham Swift, Donna Tartt, Rupert Thomson, Joy Williams, Jeanette Winterson, Geoffrey Wolff, and Tobias Wolff. Their honors include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Books Critics Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award.




Nan A. Talese is a Senior Vice President of Doubleday and the Publisher and Editorial Director of Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, a trade book publishing imprint known for its literary excellence. She began her publishing career at Random House, where she published Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner and The Savage God by A. Alvarez, a book that changed America 's understanding of suicide. After joining Simon & Schuster she began her long editorial relationship with Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan, Barry Unsworth and Thomas Keneally, all winners of the prestigious Booker Prize.

It was at Houghton Mifflin, which she joined in 1981 as Executive Editor, eventually becoming Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, that she began her association with Pat Conroy as editor of his novel The Prince of Tides. She joined Doubleday as a Senior Vice President in 1988, and two years later introduced her author-oriented imprint dedicated to the publication of a select list of quality fiction and nonfiction. The critically acclaimed and bestselling titles she has published since the imprint's inception include There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz; Beach Music and My Losing Season by Pat Conroy; Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood; Amsterdam, Atonement, and Saturday by Ian McEwan; How the Irish Saved Civilization, The Gifts of the Jews, Desire of the Everlasting Hills and Sailing the Wine Dark Sea by Thomas Cahill; Songs of the Kings by Barry Unsworth; Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser; Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd as well as the works of George Plimpton, Mark Richard, Robert MacNeil, Peter Ackroyd, Kevin Canty, Jennifer Egan and Adam Haslett among others.