Knopf Editor Sonny Mehta Keeps 'Fifty Shades of Grey' on His Office Shelves

THR_Sonny_Mehta - P 2015
Christopher Sturman

THR_Sonny_Mehta - P 2015

"What can I say? I'm a book junkie," says the publisher's chairman and editor-in-chief as he gives THR's New York Issue an inside look at his Midtown-West office, which also features a Bill Clinton bobblehead and vintage cricket bat.

This story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

The Midtown West office of India-born, British-educated Sonny Mehta, 72, reflects his cosmopolitan upbringing and eclectic literary tastes. A vintage cricket bat is propped in a corner, while a Bill Clinton bobblehead rests on his coffee table (Knopf published the president's memoir). On the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, Fifty Shades of Grey, Toni Morrison, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Graham Swift can be found on the shelves. It's an unsurprising mix for an editor long known for an equally good eye for both high- and lowbrow fare. "What can I say? I'm a book junkie," chuckles Mehta, who personally edits about 10 out of 120 books put out annually by Knopf, a division of the world's largest publishing company, Penguin Random House, which boasted $3.6 billion in 2014 revenue.

Mehta, who has a grown son with wife and novelist Gita, ticks off upcoming releases he's excited about: novels from Judy Blume and Morrison, Oliver Sacks' memoir and in the fall a sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. Mehta, who arrived in New York in 1987, when he became just the third editor-in-chief in the company's history (following founder Alfred Knopf and Robert Gottlieb), says he instantly loved the city's walkability. "I used to cut across the park to get home on the Upper East Side -- a very easy way to get here if the weather is good."

Mehta, who has a digital calendar but says he prefers the old-school feel of paper, uses his office for the business of publishing. But he likes to edit at home, “the only place where I can try to find uninterrupted time.”

The T-shirt, from artist Ralph Steadman and featuring different phonetic spellings of Knopf, was a going-away gift when Mehta moved from London to New York in 1987 to take the top job.

The dog statue outside Mehta’s office is a Borzoi, the Knopf logo designed by the founder’s wife, Blanche.

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