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Beacon Behind the Books: Meet Susan Lumenello, Managing Editor

Susan Lumenello at Skyline Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT
Susan Lumenello at Skyline Arch, Arches National Park, Moab, UT

You’ve read our classics, such as Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, Octavia Butler’s Kindred, the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son; and many of you know our current list, featuring books by Cornel West, Lani Guinier, Anita Hill, and Christopher Emdin—books that speak to the condition of the world, and add to our understanding of urgent social issues. Whether it’s the environment or race, cultural or class dynamics, we publish all our books with a purpose. Now you can meet the people who work at Beacon Press in our blog series “Beacon Behind the Books.” Each month, we’ll introduce to you a member of our staff and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at our office.

For the month of November, we introduce you to our managing editor, Susan Lumenello! 

What’s a typical day in the life of the managing editor, Susan?

A typical day involves reading and copyediting manuscripts or parts thereof, so editing for style, sense, and grammar, while maintaining the author’s style and intention. When I’m not doing that, I’m corresponding with authors about language and usage (sometimes deadlines), overseeing (that’s the managing part) the work of the wonderful freelancers who also copyedit manuscripts for us, spending quality time with The Chicago Manual of Style, reviewing edits with editorial and production staff. Then I read some more.

What current/upcoming projects are you excited about?

I like reading history and politics best. So I’m very excited about copyediting the new Howard Bryant book, The Heritage, about black athletes and politics. I’m an avid sports fan, as well as a political junkie, so it’s a good combo for me (and for others!). And I’ve been reading Scott Stern’s The Trials of Nina McCall, about the American Plan, the devastating but little-known campaign in which women were imprisoned under the pretext of disease prevention. That’s been an eye-opener.

Best vacation destination?

I recently traveled to Moab, Utah, to visit Arches and Canyonlands national parks, so that’s my favorite right now. I’m a native New Englander and had never seen anything like it. The place felt otherworldly, not just the strange, monumental rock formations at Arches but the seemingly endless landscape. I loved it.

Favorite book ever?

No favorite, but as some at Beacon know, I’m somewhat evangelical about Barbara Pym, who wrote several comic novels in the mid-twentieth century, all set in London or English villages. I love her work so much that I’m a longtime member of the Barbara Pym Society, which does exist. For the uninitiated who want initiation, start with Excellent Women and proceed; be prepared for lots of curates, anthropologists, and angst over serving tea. I also love the work of Georges Simenon, who created Inspector Maigret, the Parisian police detective. Both, I think, are great minimalist writers.

Hobbies outside of work?

Outside work, I write (sometimes publish), mostly fiction, some plays. But that’s really an avocation rather than a hobby. My hobby is playing music. I was raised in an extremely musical household and play a few instruments (with very different degrees of competency), so music is a big part of my life. I play a lot of pop stuff, musical theater, a little classical, Great American Songbook, cowboy songs, classic country, bubblegum, bossa nova, hackneyed piano ballads. I also post playlists at 8tracks.com/sonicsalad to satisfy my impulse to play college DJ again.


About Susan Lumenello 

Susan Lumenello joined Beacon Press in 2008. She is a graduate of Tufts University and the Bennington Writing Seminars.