Death of Carol Brown Janeway

Death of Carol Brown Janeway

Renowned Knopf editor and translator Carol Brown Janeway has died at the age of 71.

Announcing the news to colleagues with "profound sadness", Knopf chief executive Sonny Mehta acknowledged it came as a "shock", following a diagnosis of late stage cancer made just two weeks ago.

Janeway joined Knopf in 1970, becoming a senior vice president and senior editor who worked with with a wide range of international writers. Her work included translations of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, Sandor Marai's Embers, and, recently, Daniel Kehlmann's F (Quercus), shortlisted for this year's Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Mehta described Janeway as a "dear colleague and friend", saying: "We met as students at Cambridge some five decades ago, and from the very first moment what struck me about Carol was her fierce intelligence. She was fluent and well-read in several languages, in possession of impeccable decorum and dazzling wit, and best: she was enormous fun to be around."

He said: "She was an esteemed figure here and abroad, and for 45 years central to our publication of great works of international literature. Authors loved her. Agents respected her. And foreign publishers trusted her. I hasten to add – she was also a formidable deal-maker. She leaves behind an enduring legacy as an editor and translator."

The Independent's Boyd Tonkin, who re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction prize for literature in translation in 2001, now merged with the Man Booker International, told The Bookseller: "In retrospect, the past few decades may be seen as something of a golden age for translation from German into English. On an all-star team that also numbers, among others, Anthea Bell, Michael Hofmann, Michael Hulse, Susan Bernofsky and Mike Mitchell, Carol Brown Janeway consistently proved that she ranked with the brightest of talents. That she did so while pursuing a full-time career as a senior publisher and editor almost beggars belief. From Bernhard Schlink to Thomas Bernhard and Ferdinand von Schirach, the sheer range of the fiction she carried into English bears witness to her virtuosity and versatility. More recently, through her creative alliance with the brilliant Daniel Kehlmann, she brought to English-language readers all the sparkling wit and story-telling brio that often separates the great translator from the merely good."

Weidenfeld & Nicolson publisher Alan Samson said: "I learned the news about Carol only last night and I was shocked by the suddenness of it. She was such a brilliant and singular person, and her spectacular multi-tasking abilities as translator, editor and formidable rights negotiator are unique in my experience. Her legacy of course lives on with the wonderful novels she translated, such as Embers and our own The Reader. We have lost one of the great personalities and publishers."

Author and translator Daniel Hahn, current chair of the Society of Authors, commented: "Carol Brown Janeway was a publisher with wide horizons, one of the few in our industry with a commitment to looking beyond the English language, to bringing us some of the world's best writers, in translation. Translation itself is a tricky business and Carol was consistently supportive of new talent; but of course, she was also an incredibly fine translator herself - many of us discovered Schlink and Marai and Kehlmann in her words. We have so many reasons to be grateful to her."