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Decode the author’s photo | The New Yorker


You can learn a lot about the authors from their photos of book covers. That’s why they put it there in the first place – that, and so if you find yourself reading “My Struggle” on the subway in front of Karl Ove Knausgaard, you may recognize him and berate him for stealing your idea. to write a six-book series about a guy named Karl Ove Knausgaard. Below, find a handy index of what exactly a book jacket photo says about the author of the book.

Well-lit and flattering photo

This person is dating a photographer or has hired a publicist.

Blurred photo

This person writes scholarly fiction. Or is it an autofiction? It’s not even fancy of you to ask.

Photo where the author’s hair is frizzy, his clothes don’t fit, and he’s wearing unflattering ’70s-style glasses



Either you read a graphic novel or this person is very ugly.

Photo of a woman wearing a feminine top and a lot of makeup

When this author’s book was presented to the imprint publisher, the publisher asked, “Is this author sexy?” The editor was, like, “Uh… Does that matter?” Apparently someone decided it was important. (This book is a practical guide to reading tarot.)

Author standing in front of a bookshelf

She LOVES books !!!

Author standing in front of a cool car

Books are for losers !!!

Author pretending to play with symbolically resonating dolls

Uh-oh, this one has a personality.

Man wearing a bucket hat, holding a fish

Guy nature writer.

Woman wearing a shawl, hugging a tree

Mother nature writer.

Woman wearing a shawl standing in front of a castle

Lady who writes historical fiction that is very, very, very, very obscene.

Woman wearing a black turtleneck, looking out a window at a tree

Lady nature writer in her jazz period.

Author standing in front of a brick wall

The author was going to pay for photos in the head but then thought to himself: Wait, my friend Pete takes some really good photos. Why don’t I just have her take a picture of me?

Attractive woman wearing glasses

When the publisher bought the book, she asked if the author was sexy and then panicked because it’s supposed to be literary fiction, and if they can’t find a way to make the author less sexy. , no one is going to take it seriously. (This book is a novel about a woman reading tarot.)

Photo of a guy in glasses

He’s just a guy.

Photo of a guy in a scarf


Etching of a man with a hat and a lightly unbuttoned shirt

First of all, this author wants you to know he’s fuckable. Second, here’s Walt Whitman, the hat icon.

Photo of a young man taken around 1970

This author is bald now.

Current photo of a bald young man

This author has been bald since day one.

Photo of someone clearly born after 1995

If you were born after 1995, this is only an author photo. If you were born before 1995, this is an act of violence.

White guy in a button down shirt, smiling

You’ve never heard of this person, but your dad is obsessed with them. He sells 60 million pounds a year and he makes more money in a month than you will ever make in your life.

White guy in a button down shirt sensually looking at the camera

This man is a French academic.

Photo of an old woman

This author is thrilled to be old enough that no one is trying to figure out how sexy she is. Thus, she will finally be able to concentrate only on her work. (His book is a collection of seventy-eight poems. Each poem is based on a different tarot card, so it’s not for everyone.)

No copyright photo

Thomas Pynchon.

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