Luiz Schwarcz to receive The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

Luiz Schwarcz to receive The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award 2017

London, Monday 13th February 2017: The London Book Fair has announced that the recipient of the LBF Lifetime Achievement Award 2017 will be Luiz Schwarcz, Publisher, Companhia das Letras, Brazil.

Luiz Schwarcz is one of the most commercially successful and culturally influential figures in Brazilian publishing. He co-founded Companhia das Letras, with his wife, the historian and anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, in 1986. Since then, it has made a profound and unique contribution to book publishing in Brazil, having published over 5,000 titles across fiction and non-fiction. It publishes 38 Nobel laureates, including Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, José Saramago, and J. M. Coetzee. In October 2016, the company celebrated its 30th anniversary; and according to Nielsen’s report that year the Companhia das Letras Group held the largest market share of trade publishing in Brazil.

Luiz Schwarcz has received numerous accolades over the decades, including Man of Ideas (1987) and the “Making the Difference” award (2004). In 2010, Companhia das Letras was chosen as the most admired publishing house in Brazil by literary critics and scholars in a one-off poll run by the most prominent Brazilian business newspaper, Valor Econômico, in which it received 81% of the vote. The Companhia das Letras Group is also the largest holder of the Jabuti award, winning 206 trophies since 1988.

Luiz Schwarcz also has worked to improve literacy among disenfranchised groups. In 2010 Companhia das Letras led a pioneering initiative by creating book clubs with libraries and social institutions. Today there are 20 book clubs, including ones in prisons, hospitals and social organizations for young people living in poverty.

Luiz Schwarcz said:

“I feel deeply honoured and also humbled to receive the news that I have been granted the Lifetime Achievement Award by The London Book Fair. Honoured to be part of this incredible group of publishers that includes some of my heroes. And humbled as I always think that part of my job is to help authors to be awarded and that all the prizes should go to them. I am particularly happy to have my name next to Deborah Rogers’s, one of my greatest friends in publishing and whom I admire and deeply miss. I consider that the award is for all the people who helped me to build Companhia das Letras. And I am proud that a Brazilian publishing house has received such a great recognition from The London Book Fair.”

Literary Agent, Sam Edenborough, of ILA, said:

I am so happy that Luiz Schwarcz’s formidable achievements are being recognised in this way. Both he and Companhia das Letras, the publishing house he founded, truly embody the spirit of this award. From the beginning of his career Luiz has been a prime mover in introducing Brazilian authors to the rest of the world and in bringing the best of international literature to his fellow Brazilians. He has achieved this success in spite of having to navigate, at times, challenging economic and political conditions in his country. Over the years, Luiz has inspired a generation of editors and publishers in Brazil, and he is held in the greatest respect by his friends and business partners throughout the international publishing community.”

Koukla MacLehose, London Literary Scouting, commented: 

Luiz Schwarcz founded Companhia das Letras in Brazil in 1986, a year after the end of the dictatorship.  He became very quickly the wunderkind of the Frankfurt fair, the darling of international publishers. Companhia was breaking all kinds of rules. They were operating from San Paulo when most publishers were in Rio; and they were resolutely turned towards literature whether in translation or with Brazilian authors at a time when many of his rivals were publishing above all American, even British, bestsellers. His curiosity and openness as well as his business acumen thoroughly deserve the recognition awarded by The London Book Fair and his peers in the international publishing world.” 

David Roche, Non-Executive Chair of The London Book Fair Advisory Group said:

“Luiz is one of the true global pioneer publishers and is synonymous with the publishing industry in Brazil. He is respected around the world and we the LBF Advisory Board are delighted to recognise his immense contribution over many, many years.”

The London Book Fair’s Advisory Board, under the chairmanship of David Roche, Non-Executive Chair, The London Book Fair, voted for Luiz Schwarcz from a shortlist of international publishing figures.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an individual who has made a truly significant mark in the sphere of global publishing. It is open to publishers, agents, editors, scouts and anyone else involved in international publishing from any country in the world. Last year the award was presented to Baroness Gail Rebuck DBE. Previous recipients include Peter Usborne, Deborah Rogers of Rogers, Coleridge & White, Sonny Mehta of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Lord Weidenfeld, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, Christopher MacLehose, now of MacLehose Press, John Lyon of Little, Brown (posthumously), Lynette Owen of Pearson Education, Peter Mayer of The Overlook Press/ Duckworth Publishers, Drenka Willen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Antoine Gallimard, Éditions Gallimard, Jorge Herralde of Editorial Anagrama and Michael Krüger of Hanser Verlag.

The Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing will be presented at the International Excellence Awards, an invitation-only event on Tuesday 14th March 2017, 6.30pm in The Conference Centre, Olympia, London.

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For further information, please contact:

Amelia Knight at Midas Public Relations on 0207 361 7860 or


14-16 MARCH 2017


Notes to editors:


14-16 March 2017

Notes to editors:

The London Book Fair (LBF) is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. Taking place every spring in the world’s premier publishing and cultural capital, it is a unique opportunity to explore, understand and capitalise on the innovations shaping the publishing world of the future. LBF brings you direct access to customers, content and emerging markets. LBF 2017, the 46th Fair, will take place from 14 – 16 March 2017, Olympia London. LBF’s London Book and Screen Week will run for the third year, with the book fair as the pivotal three-day event within a seven-day programme. London Book and Screen Week will begin on Monday 13 March. For further information, please visit:

The London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing celebrates an individual’s career dedication to breaking down borders in international publishing. Anyone involved in international publishing, from any country in the world, can be nominated. The award is judged by The London Book Fair Advisory Board, made up of senior figures in the international publishing industry.


2016 – Baroness Gail Rebuck, Penguin Random House, UK

2015 – Peter Usborne, Usborne, UK

2014 – Deborah Rogers, Rogers, Coleridge & White, UK

2013 – Michael Krüger, Hanser Verlag, Germany

2012 – Jorge Herralde, Editions Anagrama, Spain

2011 – Sonny Mehta, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., US

2010 – Antoine Gallimard, Éditions Gallimard, France

2009 – Drenka Willen, Harcourt, USA

2008 – Peter Mayer, Overlook Press and Duckworth, UK & USA

2007 – Lord Weidenfeld, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, UK

2006 – Christopher MacLehose, MacLehose Press, UK

2005 – Lynette Owen, Pearson Education, UK

2004 – John Lyons, Little, Brown, UK & USA

About Luiz Schwarcz
Luiz Schwarcz was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1956. He graduated with a degree in business administration from the Fundação Getúlio Vargas (1979). During his third year of college, he began working as an intern at the Brasiliense publishing house. Soon he became the administrative manager and in 1980 he took on the role of editorial director. He remained in this position for approximately six years, sharing responsibility with Caio Graco Prado, publisher of the company, in decision-making regarding new series of books targeting young readers: Primeiros Passos, Tudo é História, Encanto Radical, Circo de Letras and Cantadas Literárias, which together sold over five million copies in the space of a few years. These series, along with the release of works by young authors who quickly gained national acclaim, transformed Brasiliense into a reference for editorial excellence and audacity.

Through the 1980s Brasiliense, under the command of Caio Graco Prado and Luiz Schwarcz, established the literary tastes of a generation, and actively participated in the movements leading to the re-democratization of the country. In his last year working at Brasiliense, Schwarcz created a division of open seminars, lectured by scholars and prominent Brazilian intellectuals, which rallied large audiences. During 1986-87, he served as cultural advisor to the vice provost of Unicamp (State University of Campinas).

In 1986, Schwarcz left Brasiliense to found the Companhia das Letras publishing house along with his wife, the historian and anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz – who besides her work as the director of the education department and as the responsible for the children’s books at Companhia das Letras also kept her career as a professor at the Universidade de São Paulo. She is one of the most important historians in Brazil and also the author of extremely successful titles published by Companhia das Letras.

The Companhia das Letras catalogue has quickly become one of the most substantial in the Brazilian editorial market. It includes national literary classics by authors such as Jorge Amado, Vinicius de Moraes, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Érico Veríssimo, and contemporary authors like Raduan Nassar, Milton Hatoum, Chico Buarque, Bernardo Carvalho, and Daniel Galera, among others. Companhia das Letras publishes the best in contemporary international fiction, including works by Philip Roth, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, David Grossman, Amós Oz, Kazuo Ishiguro and Colm Tóibín, as well as Nobel laureates José Saramago, Toni Morrison, Doris Lessing, V. S Naipaul, and J. M. Coetzee. Some of these authors have become Schwarcz’s personal friends.

For the non-fiction list, Companhia das Letras has published, to great acclaim and commercial success, thinkers such as Eric Hobsbawm, Oliver Sacks, Carlo Ginzburg, and Walter Isaacson.

In 2003, Schwarcz co-founded, with English publisher Liz Calder, Paraty Literary Festival (FLIP), one of the most important international literary festivals today. For six years, he was a member of the board of São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, chaired by the former president of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002). Schwarcz led the search committee that ultimately hired Marin Alsop, current conductor of the orchestra. Cardoso is also one of Companhia das Letras’ leading authors.

In 2009, the company entered into a partnership with Penguin, initially on the Brazilian launch of the Penguin Classics and Brazilian Classics series. In 2011, Penguin bought a 45% stake in Companhia das Letras. In 2013, Penguin merged with Random House to create Penguin Random House, the world’s largest trade publishing group. In 2014, as part of the acquisition of the general-interest imprints of Santillana by Penguin Random House, Companhia das Letras merged with Objetiva publishing house, creating the Companhia das Letras Group, with 16 imprints and 200 employees.

In addition to his work as a publisher, Schwarcz is also the author of four books: two for children (My life as a goalie [1999] and In search of the encyclopedia of youth [2003]) and two short-story collections (Discourse on grass [2005], translated into Italian by Feltrinelli Editore and into French by Actes Sud; and Sign language [2010] also translated into French by Actes Sud). Luiz Schwarcz writes a column for the Blog da Companhia (

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