Publishing legend Sonny Mehta, who served as Knopf’s editor-in-chief for 32 years, has died. He was 77.
Mehta died Monday of complications from pneumonia, according to a Knopf spokesperson.
Mehta joined the publishing house in 1987 as editor-in-chief, only the third person in history to lead Knopf. In the following decades, he published six recipients of the Nobel Prize (including Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, and Kazuo Ishiguro) and dozens more Pulitzer Prize winners. Under Mehta’s leadership, Knopf acquired bestsellers like E.L. James’ Fifty Shades novels and Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, as well as publishing books by celebrities and world leaders like Pope John Paul II, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and Sheryl Sandberg.
Before joining Knopf, Mehta began his publishing career in London in 1965, working for Rupert Hart-Davis, Granada Publishing, and Pan Books and collaborating with authors like Jackie Collins, Douglas Adams, Ian McEwan, and Salman Rushdie.
“He was a friend to writers, editors, and booksellers around the world,” a Knopf spokesperson said in a statement. “Mehta was also a gentleman, uniquely so, who cared deeply about his colleagues and the work with which he entrusted them. He was a beloved figure at Knopf, working at the only career he ever wanted. He lived a life in books, of books, and for books and writers.”