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August 12, 1988 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-08-12

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fter writing two books
on his own — two
duds and a modest success
— Novak clearly knows on
which side his literary life is •

William Novak: Top ghost for everyone from "Mayflower Madam" to Nancy Reagan.

in the gulag, but because I wanted the in-
terview to have some redeeming social
value. Maybe it would add another drop to
the ocean of publicity [being orchestrated
to secure Sharansky's release from the
When Sharansky left the Soviet Union
two years ago, he was quickly signed up by
Random House. When Novak, who had
already done two books for the publishing
house, told them he was interested in work-
ing with Sharansky, he was told the
refusenik was working on the book himself.
A year later, Novak was asked by Ran-
dom House to come into the project, but
more as an editor than a writer. The 1,000
manuscript pages that Sharansky had
written, said Novak, were "not especially
smooth and were missing a lot. It was not
as personal as it could have been and a lot
of references were not explained."
Sharansky and Novak spent the next
year pruning the manuscript by half, fill-
ing in its holes, gearing it more toward a
Western audience. They also spent the bet-
ter part of a year arguing, arguing, argu-
"The arguments were part of a great
cause," now says Novak. "I had never
before expressed my Jewish values in a
ghost-writing project."
Novak's "one fundamental disagree-
ment" with Sharansky centered on
whether the book should have an epilogue.
Sharansky wanted the book to end when
he was released and reunited with Avital.
Novak argued that "the reader goes
through all the terrible years and the
deprivation and deserves to see some
sweetness and light at the end. He wants
to know: What is freedom like after all


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