A bestselling biography of late novelist Philip Roth has been yanked by its publisher after its author was accused of raping and sexually abusing students.
Blake Bailey — who was handpicked by the “Portnoy’s Complaint” author to pen the book — was also dropped by his literacy agency, the Story Factory, before publisher’s W.W. Norton & Company halted shipping his latest work Wednesday.
“These allegations are serious. In light of them, we have decided to pause the shipping and promotion of ‘Philip Roth: The Biography’ pending any further information that may emerge,” the company announced Wednesday.
The 800-page book, published April 6, is still widely available, including on Amazon, and has appeared on the bestseller list of The New York Times and other outlets. Bailey had been working on it since 2012.
Bailey has been accused of raping at least one former student as well as grooming and assaulting others from his time as an 8th grade English teacher at the Lusher Middle School in New Orleans in the 1990s.
One woman who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Times-Picayune claimed that, when confronted, Bailey defended his actions because he “had sex with no minors or students who were my students at the time.”
“My behavior was deplorable, but I did nothing illegal,” he allegedly emailed the accuser, the outlet said.
His attorney, Billy Gibbens, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that Bailey “flatly denies the false allegations against him,” calling them “scurrilous charges” that “cannot be taken seriously.”
“Mr. Bailey has never treated a woman inappropriately and has never forced himself on a woman,” the attorney also told The Times-Picayune, one of the first to detail the women’s allegations.
His book on Roth had already caused a #MeToo-style stir by questioning how “The Human Stain” novelist treated women both as characters in his book and in his private life.
Bailey documented in detail Roth’s two unhappy marriages, as well as his chronic adultery — including advances he made on a friend of ex-wife Claire Bloom’s daughter.
Having previously penned biographies of John Cheever and Richard Yates, Bailey was picked by Roth to write the bio, and had unlimited access to Roth’s papers and time with the author before his death in 2018.
With Post wires