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Follow up: Ira Silverberg named NEA literature director

November 1, 2011 |  4:58 pm

As was reported last week, agent Ira Silverberg has been named the new director of literature at the National Endowment for the Arts. Silverberg's first day will be Dec. 5.

Silverberg leaves a successful 26-year career in publishing, where he was most recently an agent at Sterling Lord Literistic. He was previously an agent with Donadio and Olsen, editor of Grove Press, publisher of Serpent's Tail and head of his own public relations firm.

"I'm delighted to welcome Ira Silverberg to the National Endowment for the Arts," NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman said in a statement Oct. 28. "Ira brings a wealth and variety of expertise that will be of great value to the agency. The NEA's already robust literary portfolio will benefit further from Ira's skills and connections to both the national and international literary communities."

The literature director's responsibilities include managing the grant-making process for authors, translators and literary nonprofit organizations and overseeing special initiatives such as The Big Read. That was one of the projects promoted by David Kipen, who was director of literature at the NEA from September 2005 to December 2009. After his tenure in Washington ended, Kipen moved to Los Angeles and founded the Boyle Heights lending library/bookstore Libros Schmibros.

In the statement released by the NEA, Silverberg made it clear that issues surrounding ebooks will on his agenda. "As the digitization of the book industry creates a new publishing ecosystem, we want grantees to be strong and ready for the challenge of this brave new world," Silverberg said. "It's an exciting time in the literature field and I look forward to leading the charge at NEA's Literature Office."


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-- Carolyn Kellogg