Susan Orlean To Write About Infamous LAPL Fire

By Jason Boog Comment

Author and New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean inked a deal for The Library Book.

The book will explore the power of libraries and her “quest to solve a crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out in 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying 400,000 books?” If you want to read more about this sad story, the LAPL posted a complete account of the fire.

InkWell Management agent Richard Pine negotiated the deal with Jonathan Karp and Jofie Ferrari-Adler at Simon & Schuster.

We caught up with Orlean for a telephone interview and she explained how the book began:

It is remarkable how many people have never heard this story. There is a whole long history of library fires, but that particular incident made me think, ‘My God! This is a book!’ … I love these stories that are hidden in plain sight, those are the stories that thrill me. Libraries are everywhere, but in the case of the Los Angeles Public Library, there‚Äôs this interesting and complicated narrative.

Orlean concluded:

You look at a library more closely and see they are these universes that have become complicated and fascinating. The knee-jerk thought might be ‘Why do we need libraries now?’ but actually, library usage has gone way up. I think they are being recast in a way that makes them even more valuable.

Full disclosure: This GalleyCat editor is writing a book for another Simon & Schuster imprint.