Justice Sotomayor’s Collaborator?

February 12th, 2013

In The Atlantic, Peter Osnos writes to note that Justice Sotomayor (whom the headline dubs “charming and intelligent”) outsold Justice Thomas (who by implication is neither charming nor intelligent?).

The article provides one bit I didn’t realize.

Justice Sotomayor had a “collaborator” on her book.

As a collaborator, Sotomayor chose Zara Houshmand, an Iranian-American poet who apparently worked with transcriptions of the justice’s dictation to shape the prose.

Collaborator? Is that a co-author? Using “dictations to shape the prose” means writing. This doesn’t seem to be limited to editing (her editor is thanked later).

Houshmand is mentioned once in the Acknowledgment section of the book:

Given the demands of my day job, this book would not have been possible without the collaboration of Zara Houshmand. Zara, a most talented writer herself, listened to my endless stories and those of my families and friends, and helped choose those that in retelling would paint the most authentic picture of my life experiences. Zara, you are an incredible person with a special ability to help others understand and express themselves better; I am deeply indebted to your assistance. One of the most profound treasures of this process has been the gift of your friendship, which will last a lifetime.

I don’t recall if Justice Thomas book relied on a co-author or collaborator.

Osnos continues to pour on CT, calling him “dour.”

Anyone who has ever seen the vivacious Thomas in person would tell a different story.

From the early weeks of sales, My Beloved World appears on track to outsell the most recent Supreme Court memoir, Clarence Thomas’s 2007 book, My Grandfather’s Son, which Publisher’s Weekly said sold over 200,000 copies — a strong result at a time when e-books still barely registered. In tone and content, Thomas’s book reflected his dour persona, and I don’t recall that he made friends galore in his limited appearances to promote the book. In contrast, Sotomayor has charmed audiences at signings across the country with a natural warmth and humor, plus shown the patience to sign every copy purchased by turnouts as high as a thousand people at a time.

Indeed, one of her book-signings were so important, it conflicted with the inauguration of the Vice President of the United States.