Michael Adelberg started reviewing books for NYJB in early 2010. His author credits were nonfiction (history and public policy), but he was working on his first novel. He joined the NYJB roster of reviewers for the opportunity to increase his exposure to new literary fiction. Adelberg worked with NYJB’s Editor in Chief to identify a few independent presses that were publishing high-quality fiction. By April, Adelberg was reviewing four bound galleys from two publishers.
Adelberg’s first two reviews were books from the Permanent Press of Sag Harbor, New York, whose books have won several literary distinctions over the years. When Adelberg’s second review (Thomas Rayfiel’s Time Among the Dead) was posted in April, the co-publisher of the Permanent Press was so impressed by the quality of the review that he contacted NYJB to convey his compliments and express interest in reading more from Adelberg. By June, Adelberg’s manuscript, A Thinking Man’s Bully (a dark comedy about a middle-aged father coming to grips with his son’s bullying and his own bullying past) was in the publisher’s hands. After some manuscript fine-tuning, Adelberg was offered a contract in September of this year.
Adelberg credits his NYJB reviews with improving his writing and getting him noticed by an excellent publisher. He observed, “My manuscript would still be in the slush pile without the NYJB.” However, Adelberg’s big break was unplanned. “The review that the Permanent Press liked so much included humorous references to Jerry Springer, proof positive that I was not angling for the affection of a literary press when writing the review.”
NYJB puts this happy turn of events into perspective, “One of the core motivations for creating New York Journal of Books was to assemble the most credentialed online reviews with the broadest coverage so that readers would take notice of not only the major releases, but also books that rarely get the attention they deserve. That a gifted writer’s visibility as one of our reviewers has led to publication of his first novel with a highly regarded press was never in our script. This is an unexpected and profoundly sublime instance in which our mere existence acquaints readers of literary fiction with a voice that, indeed, deserves their attention.