Fiona McCrae, who has led Graywolf Press in Minneapolis for the past 27 years, announced her impending retirement as director and publisher this morning. McCrae will step down from the helm of the press in June 2022. A committee led by Cathy Polasky, the chair of Graywolf’s Board of Directors, will launch a national search for a new director and publisher.
McCrae, who previously worked as an editor at Faber & Faber in London and subsequently in Boston, was hired in 1994 to serve as Graywolf publisher. She succeeded Scott Walker, who founded Graywolf in Washington State in 1974 to publish poetry chapbooks.
During McCrae's tenure, Graywolf became a powerhouse in the independent and literary publishing worlds, renowned for its literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry offerings, and for nurturing such critically-acclaimed authors as Elizabeth Alexander, Eula Biss, Natalie Diaz, Percival Everett, Leslie Jamison, Layli Long Soldier, Carmen Maria Machado, Maggie Nelson, Dorthe Nors, Per Petterson, Max Porter, Claudia Rankine, Vijay Seshadri, Danez Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Szybist, and Kevin Young. A number of Graywolf authors have received such prestigious awards as the Nobel Prize, the Booker and Booker International Prizes, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, among others.
McCrae took the helm at Graywolf shortly after the press posted a $200,000 deficit in 1993. Under her leadership, annual individual giving at Graywolf rose to record highs, and she successfully led three fundraising campaigns for the press, including the $3 million New Chapter Campaign completed just last month. The funds will be invested in editorial and audience initiatives, as well as in infrastructure.
In a release, McCrae stated: “It’s been a marvelous adventure and I am so grateful to all the incredible individuals I have had the pleasure of working with, from the exceptional staff and board to all our cherished and talented writers. Their words have changed and enriched me in countless ways. I have loved it all: discovering new writers, seeing new covers come together, traveling to meet national and international colleagues, the successes—large and small, the readings, the conferences and book fairs. Such riches—I have been so lucky.”