In Memoriam: Christopher Carduff

Christopher Carduff, Books Editor of The Wall Street Journal, died unexpectedly on August 14, 2023. He was 66. According to his obituary, “The cause was complications related to a sudden brain bleed and blood clot. An extremely talented editor, he left a large literary legacy and made an enormous contribution to the canon of American letters.”

As an expert on John Updike, he was asked to serve as a trustee for the John H. Updike Literary Trust, and in his capacity as publishing consultant to the Trust he edited the posthumously published Updike volumes Higher Gossip, Always Looking, Collected Stories, Selected Poems, and multiple collections of Updike’s novels. Recently he oversaw publication of a forthcoming collection of selected letters compiled by Updike scholar and John Updike Society vice-president James Schiff—a volume now expected to be released sometime in 2024-25.

As his obituary notes, “In addition to Updike, Chris was the estate-appointed editor of posthumous works by Maeve Brennan, Penelope Fitzgerald, Daniel Fuchs, and William Maxwell. From 2006 to 2017, he was an editor and publishing consultant at The Library of America, overseeing the publication of American classics. He conceived and supervised multivolume editions of the collected works of many writers, including Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, Virgil Thomson, Kurt Vonnegut, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.” Carduff has been the Books Editor at The Wall Street Journal since 2017.

Chris was also an occasional but valued advisor to the Updike Society, president James Plath said. “He was a resource whose opinions I trusted and appreciated, whether they were about our work on an Updike museum-in-progress or, more recently, concerning a campaign the society plans to mount to get Updike on a U.S. postage stamp,” Plath said. “He will be missed, and his passing leaves a void on the John H. Updike Literary Trust that has yet to be filled.”

In “A friend’s passing reminds me that life is precious,” Danny Heitman wrote, “Among his favorite writers was John Updike, whom Chris admired for describing everyday experience in a way that makes it seem worthy of respect. That ideal, which Updike called giving ‘the mundane its beautiful due,’ is something that Chris seemed to regard as a kind of prayer.”

The society sends its condolences to Chris’s wife, Elizabeth Skinner Carduff, his two sisters, a brother, and nieces and nephews. See his obituary for details on how to donate to the Christopher Carduff Scholarship fund at The Columbia University Publishing Course.



One thought on “In Memoriam: Christopher Carduff

  1. Thank you for your kind remembrance and honoring of Christopher, my brother. Chris’s passion for his work, literature, and for John Updike’s legacy was fervent and authentic. His passing leaves a hole in our family’s tapestry and treasure trove of fond memories shared throughout the years. May his contributions to the literary world live on to inspire and uplift readers’ spirits and imaginations.
    Sibyl Dana Carduff Reynolds

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