House of Anansi Press, one of the most storied domestic literary houses in Canada, has a new publisher. Karen Brochu, vice president of sales and marketing at the house, will take up the reins as publisher in July. In a simultaneous announcement, Douglas Richmond has been promoted from senior editor to editorial director.
In a press release, Semareh Al-Hillal, Anansi’s president, calls Brochu “an invaluable member of our company” who “brings deep knowledge of the trade market in Canada and the U.S.”
Brochu’s appointment follows the abrupt departure, in February, of Leigh Nash, who had been publisher for just under a year before stepping down from the role. Publicity director Debby de Groot also resigned her position in a rare instance of two senior staffers leaving simultaneously.
At the time, no reasons were given for Nash and de Groot’s departures, though the latter is staying on through October to see her spring 2023 titles to completion and to introduce the fall 2023 slate, which includes this year’s Massey Lectures, titled The Age of Insecurity and delivered by Astra Taylor; Theophylline, a new volume of poetry from Erín Moure; Back in the Land of the Living, the second novel from Newfoundland writer Eva Crocker; and highly anticipated debut novels from Michael Melgaard and Adriana Chartrand.
“House of Anansi Press has a fantastic editorial team that I have worked with for many years,” Brochu says. “I look forward to putting my own stamp on a storied house that has been such a place of joy for me.”
Started in 1967 by writers Dennis Lee and David Godfrey, Anansi has gone on to become one of Canada’s most important independent presses. It helped launch the careers of Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, as well as publishing important Canadian literary writers such as Austin Clarke, Lisa Moore, Michael Winter, Mark Anthony Jarman, Zoe Whittall, and Sheila Heti. Businessman Scott Griffin rescued the house from possible demise in the wake of the General Distribution Services bankruptcy, purchasing it in 2002.
In the press release, Griffin says that Brochu “will bring her creativity and vast understanding of the Anansi list to the role of publisher.” He also says that Richmond’s promotion “will be a boon for the company’s publishing program.”