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WORD: Literary agent, editor Knox Burger: 1922-2010

Legendary book editor and literary agent Knox Burger, who some credit as ushering in the era of million dollar book deals, died in New York City on Jan. 4, at age 87. Burger spent his career as an advocate for writers, first as fiction editor at the magazine Collier’s, then for two decades as a book editor at Dell and Fawcett Publications.

Burger was the first editor to give a young Kurt Vonnegut the green light to a literary career when Collier’s published his first short story "Report on the Barnhouse Effect" in 1950.

As a book editor, Burger later worked with renowned authors such as Vonnegut -- who dedicated a book to him -- John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury, and Louis L'Amour, among many others.

But it was as a literary agent where his reputation was made. Burger founded the literary agency Knox Burger & Associates in 1970 with his wife Kitty Sprague, where he quickly built a reputation as an aggressive negotiator and dealmaker.

His $1 million deal for Martin Smith’s "Gorky Park" in 1980, unheard of at the time, helped make him one of the book industry’s most renowned literary agents.

In 2000, Burger merged his agency with Harold Ober Associates. The agency, among the more successful and respected today, is located in Burger's beloved Manhattan.


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