At Penguin Random House's flagship imprint, Andy Ward has been promoted to publisher, while Knopf's Robin Desser has been tapped as senior v-p and editor-in-chief. Ward is replacing Susan Kamil, who died, suddenly, last month.
In an announcement about Ward's promotion, Gina Centrello, president and publisher of Random House, said Ward, who is currently editor-in-chief at RH, has shown "steady, caring stewardship, as well as his own talents as an editor." Centrello said that Ward, in his new role, "will help set the priorities for not just Random House but also the Dial and Hogarth imprints," as well as acquiring and editing.
Ward, who joined RH in 2009, has edited such books as George Saunders’s Booker Prize–winning Lincoln in the Bardo, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Michael Moss’s Salt Sugar Fat.
Now reporting to Ward are senior v-p and president, deputy publisher Tom Perry; v-p, deputy publisher Avideh Bashirrad; v-p and editorial director of Dial Press Whitney Frick; and editorial director of Hogarth Alexis Washam, editorial director of Hogarth.
Centrello added that, on "a personal note," Ward's move into the position is of particular satisfaction because it's something she and Kamil has discussed before Kamil died. As Centrello explained, "over the past year, Susan Kamil expressed to me her desire that Andy might someday take on this role and build upon the foundation she had established." Centrello said: "I know that Susan would be as happy as I am that her, and our, beloved Random House is in such committed, capable hands."
Desser will take over her new role as senior v-p and editor-in-chief of Random House on January 21, 2020. Ward announced the move in a memo to staff.
Having been at Knopf since 2013, Desser has been a part of Random House for over 30 years. She joined as an assistant editor at Pantheon Books, and moved into her first job at Knopf, in a senior editorial role, in 1996. Calling her "one of the finest, most accomplished editors in the business," Ward said Desser has created "a deep roster of bestselling, critically lauded authors." Among those she has acquired and/or edited are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A. S. Byatt, Anne Carson, Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jane Smiley, Claire Messud and Cheryl Strayed. In 2013, Desser won the the Maxwell E. Perkins Award for achievement in fiction.
In her new role at RH, Desser will, Ward said, " lead the Random House editorial department, playing a key role in advocating for our authors and editors, shaping our list, and continuing to pursue her own acquisitions."
Ward added: "As astonishing as her track record is as an editor, Robin is someone who leads with kindness, openness, and generosity toward her colleagues and the publishing community at large.... All of us will benefit from her passion for great writing, the integrity she exudes, and the care she brings to her work."