Five important authors slammed the door of the editor in five days, just after the renewal of the direction. Some denounce the lack of independence they would have with Isabelle Saporta, who has just been appointed head of this house.
Fayard editions are facing a serious crisis, having seen five leading authors leave in a few days, including their number one Virginie Grimaldi, all unhappy with a change of management.
This crisis has been brewing since the departure in March of general manager Sophie de Closets. She remained for eight years the patroness of this renowned house, founded in 1857. The announcement on Monday June 13 of the name of her successor, Isabelle Saporta, precipitated these departures.
They come as the parent company of Fayard editions, Hachette, is in the process of coming under the control of Vivendi, the group of billionaire Vincent Bolloré.
“Sophie de Closets did not leave Fayard of her own free will”, affirmed Friday June 17, the essayist and novelist Jacques Attali, also on the departure. For him, the choice was simple. “I had arrived at Fayard by following Claude Durand who became my best friend. I was then very happy with the arrival of Sophie. I’ll follow her wherever she goes.”he explained.
“Independence under threat”
Journalist Fabrice Lhomme called Sophie de Closets a “best editor in Paris”. With his daily colleague The world, Gérard Davet, they are leaving too. “Our editorial independence, which is so dear to us and has always been total, is clearly threatened”, wrote the two men in a registered letter to Isabelle Saporta.
These two investigative journalists did not support Isabelle Saporta’s sympathy for former President Nicolas Sarkozy, the subject of several of their works, who accuses them of having paid sources. “It is totally false. And Isabelle Saporta seriously implicated us by spreading this rumor. Some have a hard life, from the moment we maintain them”, Fabrice Lhomme told AFP.
The most resounding departure for Fayard is that of the novelist Virginie Grimaldi, announced on Tuesday June 14. “My values and my beliefs are no longer in line with the direction the house is taking,” she wrote on Twitter and Instagram. With her, it is the number two in book sales in France (behind Guillaume Musso) who leaves, weighing 877,000 copies in 2021. Her rise is one of the great successes of Sophie de Closets: she had signed in 2016 this unknown, then author of a single novel with a very small publisher.
Virginie Grimaldi did not give any further explanation for this decision. “I didn’t have time to plan plan B”, she told the literary website ActuaLitté.
Another “coup” recently achieved by Sophie de Closets: the success of an investigation into the nursing homes of the Orpea group by journalist Victor Castanet, The Gravediggers , which sparked a scandal after its release in January. This author leaves too. “With Sophie de Closets, I saw how important the independence of the director of a publishing house was. However, Isabelle Saporta defends Nicolas Sarkozy’s thesis on Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme without any proof. This is a terrible signal for investigative journalists who publish in this house,” he estimated.
On the website of The Obs Thursday, June 16, Isabelle Saporta defended herself against this fear. “Independence is my honor and it is above all an essential requirement of our authors”, she said. She also denied any intention of interference by Vincent Bolloré within Fayard. “What I see is that the Hachette group has brought a left-wing investigative journalist, environmentalist, with a free voice, to the head of a jewel of the group”, she pointed out.
According to several sources in the publishing sector, Sophie de Closets is waiting to take the helm of Flammarion editions, deprived of a boss since the resignation in January of Anna Pavlowitch. Flammarion does not comment on this information for the moment.
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