Despite reports of the author's latest book being canceled by Random House, the company states it was never under contract to begin with.
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Yes, Norman Mailer's book is still happening — but its publisher won't be Random House.

Earlier this week, Richard Rushfield's Ankler newsletter published a report from author Michael Wolff claiming that Random House, Mailer's longtime publisher, canceled a deal to release a collection of his political writings because of their controversial content. The book would've been published in celebration of Mailer's 100th birthday in 2023.

Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer's new book will be published by Skyhorse.
| Credit: J. Kempin/FilmMagic

According to the New York Times, however, Mailer's collection of writing — including a host of unpublished excerpts from letters and manuscripts — will be published by the independent publishing company Skyhorse.

A spokesperson for Random House told the Times that it's "factually incorrect that Random House canceled an upcoming book of essays by Norman Mailer," adding that despite the report, the book was never under contract with them to begin with.

Mailer's son, John Buffalo Mailer, told the Times that he was disappointed the publisher passed on the book given the longstanding relationship his father had with the company, but that he could understand why.

"This is the first commercial book of Norman's that's going to come out in the era we're living in, and there's going to be a lot of questions," he said. "They didn't feel they were the right house to do this book right now."

Literary agent Andrew Wylie, who represents the Mailer estate, also confirmed to the Times that no falling-out had happened between the late author and the publisher he'd worked with for years.

"There is no issue here. Random House is proud to publish Norman Mailer, and intends to promote his work significantly for the centennial, in tandem with the publication by Skyhorse of the anthology," he said. "The Mailer family and Random House are united in support of Norman's work."

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Norman Mailer won two Pulitzers.
| Credit: Bob Peterson/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Skyhorse has garnered a bit of a name for itself over the years by acquiring books that other publishers have dropped due to various situations. Two of those books include Woody Allen's memoir (originally set to be published by Hachette) and Blake Bailey's biography of Philip Roth (originally set to be published by WW Norton.)

The Ankler story reported that the drawback had come primarily from a junior staffer who objected to Mailer's 1957 essay, "The White Negro." It also reported that the decision was influenced by feedback from celebrated author Roxane Gay.

Gay, for her part, debunked the suggestion on social media, tweeting, "As if. So silly of @penguinrandom to try and put this on me. I could not care less about this. And I don't have that kind of power."

Reps for Ankler, Random House, and Skyhorse didn't immediately respond to EW's requests for comment.

Norman Mailer died in 2007 at the age of 84. He was the recipient of two Pulitzer prizes for his writing, earning one in 1968 for his account of a peace march on the Pentagon, "Armies of the Night," and one in 1979 for chronicling the life and death of criminal Gary Gilmore, titled "The Executioner's Song."

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