In 1983, Algonquin Books set up shop in a woodshed behind co-founder Louis Rubin’s Chapel Hill, N.C., home. A handmade sign—”Algonquin Books Editorial; Please close the gate”—signaled not just the conversion from utilitarian outbuilding to literary incubator (and a plea not to let Rubin’s dogs out). It spoke to the focused, pragmatic drive behind our founding: to publish great literary fiction and nonfiction by undiscovered young writers. A proper office was beside the point. Our first book, Passing Through by Leon Driskell, was published later that year, an ephemeral-sounding title to launch an enterprise that’s now thirty years old.
Although we started as a small Southern house, many now-renowned authors launched their careers here, including Julia Alvarez, Kaye Gibbons, Robert Morgan, Lee Smith, Jill McCorkle, Tayari Jones and many others. In 1989, Algonquin was acquired by Workman Publishing, one of the largest independent publishing companies in the United States. Today, we have offices in New York City and Chapel Hill and are recognized around the world as a literary house with numerous bestsellers. From Water for Elephants to A Reliable Wife, The Art Forger to Survival Lessons, our books continue to stimulate, enrich and entertain legions of fans.