|Citizenship||United States of America|
Dan Simon is an American editor and independent publisher who also writes articles, books, and plays in various genres on a wide range of subjects at the juncture between the literary and the political. An early champion of the American writer of the dispossessed, Nelson Algren, Simon has kept Algren completely in print, co-edited several collections of unpublished writings, and co-wrote the playscript for the just-released film, Nelson Algren Live. At the independent publishing house he founded, Seven Stories Press, he has edited many important works of American literature, including Octavia Butler’s last three novels (Parable of Sower, Parable of the Talents, and Fledgling), Kurt Vonnegut’s last canonical book, A Man without a Country, and all of Barry Gifford’s fiction for the last twenty years. He published the National Book Award-winning Poems Seven by Alan Dugan, and Stanley Moss’s Almost Complete Poems, winner of the National Jewish Book Award, and many other award-winning and best-selling works of fiction and nonfiction, including Noam Chomsky’s recent New York Times Bestseller Requiem for the American Dream, two books by Angela Davis, and many books by radical American historian Howard Zinn.
Simon has been a fierce advocate on behalf of independent book publishers and writers of the imagination, co-creating in 2017, with Tom Hallock, then associate publisher of Beacon Press, the Independent Publishers Caucus, which now has approximately 70 member-publishing houses, and hosts bi-weekly town halls for its members to raise consciousness and build skills among independent publishers both as cultural leaders and small businesses. Part of his philosophy at Seven Stories is to keep everything in print and to commit to author’s careers rather than only to individual titles, building up a catalogue that includes nearly the entire output of writers like San Francisco noir novelists Barry Gifford and Peter Plate, French memoirist Annie Ernaux and many others.
Simon’s recently reissued biography of American activist and environmentalist Abbie Hoffman, co-authored with Abbie’s brother Jack Hoffman, entitled Run Run Run: The Lives of Abbie Hoffman, portrays the life of an American revolutionary propelled by optimism even as he is haunted by despair. Simon’s longform articles for The Nation on political and literary topics focus on the space where politics and literature overlap, including recently “Who Voted for Hitler?” He has translated several books from French to English, including Van Gogh: Self Portraits by Pascal Bonafoux, and shorter pieces introducing the Algerian writer and teacher Jean Grenier, and the Rumanian poet Ion Carion.
Kurt Vonnegut liked to say of Simon, “He raised me from the dead, as Jesus raised Lazarus.” And a feature article on Simon in the French magazine Livres Hebdo describes him as an “editor-soldier.”
Dan Simon’s father was the medical inventor and clinician Dr. Morris Simon. His mother Josephine Simon was a Boston University professor and a founder of Goddard-Cambridge, a progressive remote learning graduate program, and the Newton Arts Center. His uncle Barney Simon was a South African theatre director and co-founder of the renowned multiracial Market Theatre (Johannesburg). Dan Simon grew up during the flowering of sixties radical culture in Cambridge and Boston in a loosely knit community of academics and professionals that also included the families of Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and other academics who balanced their academic careers with civic activism. For example, shortly after a mishap of the Vietnam War in December 1972, in which bombs intended for a nearby airfield destroyed the Bach Mai Hospital in North Vietnam, his father Dr. Simon joined Dr. Benjamin Spock, Cora Weiss and other known public figures on a trip to Hanoi bringing medical equipment to the hospital on a humanitarian mission, prompting severe public criticism on their return.
Simon was educated at the Commonwealth School and Newton North High School, then at Columbia University, and holds his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Columbia. He also has a certificate in French Studies from the University of Tours, as well as a Silver Medal from the Conservatoire de Versailles in France, and was named a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. All his projects are informed by musical structures, from his essays to his editing of Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man without a Country, and his collaboration with C.S. O’Brien on Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, Nelson Algren’s book-length credo on the writing art that was not published in Algren’s lifetime after he was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era for his political activities.
- "About the Press". Seven Stories Press.
- "Authors: Dan Simon". The Nation.
- "Authors: Nelson Algren". Seven Stories Press.
- Kogan, Rick (November 2017). "Nelson Algren and Chicago's war effort in 2 new films that delve into our city's past". The Chicago Tribune.
- "Nelson Algren Live (2016)". IMDb.
- Simon, Dan (5 June 2006). "A Tribute to Octavia E. Butler" (Lecture Transcript). New York Public Library.
- "Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry". National Book Foundation.
- "Almost Complete Poems". Jewish Book Council.
- "Best Sellers: Paperback Nonfiction: 16 April 2017". The New York Times.
- "Authors: Angela Davis". Seven Stories Press.
- "Homepage". Independent Publishers Caucus.
- Rosen, Judith (February 2017). "Bookselling in a Time of Political Upheaval". Publishers Weekly.
- "Run Run Run: The Lives of Abbie Hoffman". Seven Stories Press.
- Simon, Dan (15 January 2021). "Who Voted for Hitler?". The Nation.
- Bonafoux, Pascal; Simon, Dan (trans.) (1989). Van Gogh: Self Portraits. New Jersey: Wellfleet Press.
- Cogeval, Guy; Simon, Dan (trans.) (1986). Post-Impressionists. London: Alpine Fine Arts Collection.
- Purcell, Andrew (March 2006). "Kurt Vonnegut: a Requiem for the USA". Sydney Sunday Herald.
- "Dan Simon, Le Maspero du Bushland". Livres Hebdo. No. 608. July 2005.
- Pearce, Jeremy (22 January 2005). "Morris Simon, Developer of Flexible Blood Clot Filter, Has Died at 79". The New York Times.
- "For freedom of the heart and mind Obituary: Barney Simon". The Guardian. July 1995.
- Bui, Phong (16 January 2017). "Dan Simon with Phong Bui". Brooklyn Rail.
- Simon, Dan (19 March 2019). "Rediscovering Nelson Algren". The Nation.