Daisy Maryles, the beloved, multi-talented, long-serving former executive editor of PW, whose career spanned 44 years on staff and more as a contributing editor, died in a New York City hospital on March 18, a month shy of her 74th birthday. A tremendous loss to her family, to PW and its staff present and past, and to a multitude of friends in the book industry—her talent for friendship was unparalleled—she was a New York original: smart, tough, funny, deep-feeling, profoundly wise, and a life force who will live on in many hearts. But while she and PW were a match made in heaven, it might not have seemed so obvious at first glance.
Born in 1947 in a displaced persons camp in Germany to Orthodox Jewish Holocaust survivor parents from Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Daisy Ginczler grew up on New York's Lower East Side, older sibling to her sister Hannah. She was educated in Jewish schools—at Esther Schoenfeld for both primary and high school, and a further year at an all-women’s seminary. In 1965, at age 18, she started at PW as an editorial assistant, soon working for the legendary (not to mention formidable) Barbara Bannon while also majoring in English at City College at night—an impressive juggling act and the first of many. She made her debut on the masthead in the June 29, 1966 issue; was promoted to assistant news editor in 1969; and on July 12, 1971 the masthead announced to the world that she had become Daisy G. Maryles (the “G.” was soon dropped, but her marriage to Avi Maryles, a big man in all sorts of ways, would last until his untimely death in 1999).
Type her name into the PW archive, and it brings up 5,079 hits, for Daisy could never be accused of not knowing every aspect of the business. In 1973, she was named news editor; two years later became bookselling and marketing editor; and in 1981 was promoted to senior editor – but the biggest blessing that year was her longed-for daughter, Miriam. In February 1985 she was elevated to the executive editorship that she held for almost a quarter-century.
She could report, interview, write, edit, innovate: Daisy initiated and brilliantly ran PW’s religion coverage—predominantly Christian—and forged new friendships among those publishers, editors, and publicists who recognized a fellow person of faith when they saw one. She was the lively voice in the long-running Behind the Bestsellers column; was responsible for the ABA and BEA Show Dailies; planned and edited category features; and hired and mentored countless staff, this reporter included. A huge supporter of the Jerusalem Book Fair, she covered it many times, and was also a judge of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. In 2005, she was honored with the first Harry Scherman Lifetime Service Award by the UJA-Federation of New York’s book publishing division.
Although she joked and dished and charmed with the best of them, underneath her humor and her gossip lay a deep empathy for human foibles, aspirations, triumphs, and foolishness. Always ready to listen, she offered the steadiest counsel and the most unstinting warmth to anyone in need. She lit up a room and welcomed everyone in. Jews are traditionally called “the people of the book.” Daisy, who remained Orthodox and observant her entire life while also living so vibrantly in the secular world, brought grace and a precious multiplicity to being a woman of the book, and one of the finest human beings many of us have ever known.
Her beloved Miriam and husband Mikey Halioua gave her four adored grandchildren, Renée, Racquel, Ruby, and Aaron, ages 15 to one year. They survive her, as do her sister Hannah and husband Gary Bekritsky; the large Maryles clan; nieces and nephews on both sides; and friends innumerable.