'True original' López de Lamadrid dies, aged 59

'True original' López de Lamadrid dies, aged 59

Renowned Spanish editor Claudio López de Lamadrid has died, aged 59.

Lamadrid died on Friday night (11th January) of a stroke at his office, a Penguin Random House spokesperson said, with an internal message circulating to PRH staff in tribute to the 59-year-old.

A Penguin Random House spokesperson shared an internal message with The Bookseller. "This has been a tough weekend for many of us," the email reads. "Friday afternoon we learned that our beloved Grupo Editorial colleague Claudio López de Lamadrid had suffered a sudden massive stroke in his office in Barcelona, causing immediate brain death. Nothing could be done for him in the hospital. 

"Claudio was publisher of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, and also its Literatura Random House imprint. His title doesn’t begin to do justice to his impact on the importance and success of our Spanish-language publishing program, or the esteem in which he was held as an editor and publisher in Spain and internationally.

"He oversaw our world-class imprints in Spain and Latin America, setting and unifying Grupo’s publishing strategies, criteria, and planning across our territories. He also, in the words of PRHGE c.e.o. Nuria Cabuti, was 'one of the most important editors of our time'." 

The circular also described how the editor, who was editorial director of Random House Literature, Reservoir Books and Trojan Horse, "championed the publishing of new literary voices, from Spain, such as Francisco Casavella, Javier Calvo, and Laura Fernandez, and from Latin America, Samantha Schweblin, Aberto Fuguet, Pola Oloixrara, and Rafael Gumuejo".

"Renowned in the Spanish literary and cultural global and the international book-publishing community, Claudio was an ever-available and close working colleague to so many of our publishers and editors in North America and PRH worldwide,  who benefitted regularly from his advice and experience, and who adored him as a friend.

"Claudio’s passing is especially devastating for everyone at Grupo." In a memo to her staff Saturday, Nuria wrote, "Claudio’s death leaves a huge void in our lives…he invariably had a kind word to say and a friendly smile to share, and he always displayed remarkable levels of complicity, sagacity and empathy. I know that all of you who had the chance to work with him came to revere him.

"Our hearts are in deep sympathy with our Grupo colleague - and with Claudio’s life partner Angeles, his children, and family members."

The PRH spokesperson also shared an advert created by Grupo Editorial colleagues in Lamadrid's memory, which quotes him.

“Editing texts, working with their authors or with their translations, and doing so anonymously, without leaving any trace of their authorship. This is fascinating because it strikes at the very essence of our job: the editor works for the author and not the other way around," the advert reads. "Claudio López de Lamadrid (1960-2019). Forever in the thoughts of the entire staff of Penguin Random House."

Lamadrid began his career as an editor in Paris with Christian Bourgois and then worked for 10 years in Tusquets Editores with his uncle Antonio López Lamadrid, co-editor of Tusquets, before helping to launch the Galaxia Gutenberg seal of Círculo de Lectores. He was appointed literary director of Grijalbo Mondadori in 1997, later taken over by Mondadori, where he worked with David Foster Wallace, Gabriel García Márquez, Joan Didion, Bruce Springsteen and Philip Roth among others. In his 40-year-career he also worked with authors such as Orhan Pamuk and JM Cotezee, sometimes providing translation as well as editing.

Scout Catherine Eccles, who attended his funeral in Barcelona, told The Bookseller: "How devastating the loss of Claudio is to so many people, personally and professionally, was apparent at his funeral where at least 800 people were crammed into the chapel at Sant Gervasi, with more standing outside… Everyone who knew Claudio felt special to be in his orbit, with his quiet charisma, enormous appetite for literature and fun, and absolute integrity.  We will miss him more than we know.”

Jamie Byng, Canongate m.d. and close friend to Lamadrid said: “Thinking of my dear friend Claudio López Lamadrid whose funeral is today. His sudden death last Friday is a huge loss, not least to world publishing. He was a funny, gentle, stylish, gracious, bold, wise and true original. He had a beautiful spirit and affected everyone he met.

Many in the publishing industry have also paid tribute to the editor on Twitter with Curtis Brown agent Cathryn Summerhayes‏ describing his death as "unbelievably sad news". She wrote: "Claudio was a genius, a mentor and just a bloody good man. Publishing is a poorer place today." 

Publishing consultant Ira Silverberg tweeted: "Claudio López De Lamadrid died at his desk at age 59 yesterday.  He was that rare corporate chief who still cared about the impact that literature could have on readers rather than simply caring about numbers.  He will be missed by many."