The Paris Review is mourning the loss of our publisher Susannah Hunnewell, who died on June 15 at her home in New York at the age of fifty-two. Her contributions to the magazine were immeasurable. You can read our more formal obituary here, and the Art of Fiction interviews she conducted here. In this post, we are gathering the intimate remembrances of those who knew her well. The page will be updated as more come in.
You must go to this place. You need to meet this person. This is the most fucking awesome spot, go there! Ask for this.
Susannah Hunnewell would go on to detail what you would find at those places, her hands poised as if she were casting crisp spells. She was sending you into passageways, her voice getting smaller, you were going to enter the magical world she had found. You might meet a woman. She would send the address. And she did.
Other times you had to get together with her friend because this other person was the most brilliant, hilarious soul. You had to be linked because then pleasure would explode. She relished all-female dinners, planned not as political statement but as a means of maximizing excitement and outrageous storytelling. She adored rock concerts with men in T-shirts thrashing away on Fenders.
Forever helpful, she vetted hotels, found you translators, offered speedy edits, precise life counsel, her ideas as plentiful as cherry blossoms, her jokes, her use of expletives, the same.
When she long ago left the magazine where we worked together to have her first son, we were so sad for ourselves. That electric mind, it seemed, would be reserved for one little being. But how extraordinary it was as each of her sons was born, she like Jo from Little Women, the bold heroine, birthing her men. They were so lucky, those handsome boys. And even in these life experiences, she served as pioneer, issuing raves, cautions. Just you wait, she would often say about one rite of passage or another. College departure: “My god you wait. Hysterical sobbing and I mean hysterical.”
Just a few years ago, after her first diagnosis, she sent me, without comment, a photo of herself from the past. A steel gaze, a bright red mouth, hair as black as her dress, and her white hands curled over her pregnant belly, a gorgeous, mysterious, noir sorceress.
Of course with motherhood, her audience had simply broadened, in her home with her adored husband, Antonio, and around the world. We read her intriguing, epic interviews in The Paris Review, enjoyed the pages curated during her tenure as Paris editor, her many issues as publisher—the reasons for her knighthood. Read More