Barney Rosset Memorial Set for May 9

Barney RossetArne Svenson Barney Rosset in 1986.

The family of late publishing legend Barney Rosset, who died in February at the age of 89, has planned a public memorial for next month.

A representative of Grove/Atlantic – the parent company of Grove Press, which Mr. Rosset sold in 1986 – told The Local that the memorial, organized by the publisher’s wife Astrid Myers along with his four children and described as “a celebration of his life and work,” will take place at the Great Hall at Cooper Union, a short walk from the literary iconoclast’s loft near Cooper Square.

Friends of Mr. Rosset who are expected to pay their respects include Morgan Entrekin, the publisher of Grove/Atlantic who described him as a “great, great American publisher” in a Boston Globe obituary; Fred Jordan, an editor at Mr. Rosset’s Evergreen Review who went on to became editorial director at Grove (in 1997, Mr. Jordan’s son, Ken, published a lengthy interview with his father’s former boss in The Paris Review); Giannina Braschi, a poet and novelist who was published by Mr. Rosset during his later days running an online incarnation of Evergreen Review with his wife; Haskell Wexler, best known as the cinematographer of such films as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; and Martin Garbus, the First Amendment attorney who, in the AP’s obituary, was quoted describing Mr. Rosset as “the guy who fundamentally broke down censorship barriers in this country.”

Barney RossetScott Rettberg Barney Rosset at the offices of the Evergreen
Review, 2001

Also expected to speak is John Oakes, the publisher of OR Books who, on the Website of the PEN American Center, recalled his days of working for Mr. Rosset: “The man’s extraordinary, unmatchable publishing record was not so much a goal of his as a by-product of his revolutionary worldview. He had a modest vision to reshape American culture, and when he bought a tiny company called Grove Press in 1951 he started doing so via the medium of books.”

The event, which will also include a performance by composer David Amram, is open to the public and will begin at 5:30 p.m. on May 9. Doors open at 5 p.m.