Grand Central’s Ben Greenberg Has Been Waiting His Whole Life to Publish Charlie Kaufman’s Debut Novel

Mr. Kaufman, with novelist beard.

Acquiring Academy Award-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s  debut novel was a long time coming for Grand Central executive editor Ben Greenberg. But with the closing of the deal, reported on Publishers Marketplace today, his patience paid off.

Mr. Greenberg, a fan of Mr. Kaufman, has been angling to publish his writing since he saw 1999’s Being John Malkovich.

“I’ve been chasing after Charlie for years,” Mr. Greenberg told The Observer. “Without ever having spoken to him. It was just an idea.”


Grand Central snagged the novel in a pre-empt, after exclusive negotiations. (Mr. Kaufman is represented by Claudia Ballard at William Morris Endeavor, which also represents his screen work.)

He was reluctant to reveal any more details about how the idea will come to fruition, including if the novel was complete, or its tentative title. Although Mr. Kaufman has a (perhaps undeserved) reputation for avoiding press, Mr. Greenberg said he hadn’t been too hard to track down

“It was just something that he wasn’t going to do until he wanted to do it,” he said. (Elliptical! Not unlike a Kaufman screenplay.)

Mr. Greenberg’s Hachette imprint is known for publishing pop culture and Internet personalities with somewhat broader comedic stylings than the Synecdoche, NY writer. Recent acquisitions include Portlandia: A Guide for Visitors, based on Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s IFC series, and #humblebrag meme creator Harris Wittels’ Humblebrags Volume I.

Perhaps we can expect a humblebrag from Mr. Greenberg, regarding his well-rewarded persistence?