Dyja, Thomas 1962-
DYJA, Thomas 1962-
PERSONAL: Born July 31, 1962, in Chicago, IL; son of Edward S. (a pharmacist) and Margaret (a teacher; maiden name, Hartman) Dyja; married Suzanne Gluck (a literary agent), May 12, 1990; children: Nicholas E., Kaye A. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1984. Hobbies and other interests: Sports, film, design, history.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Lisa Bankoff, ICM, 40 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Worked at bookstores in Chicago, IL, and New York, NY, 1978-84; International Creative Management (literary agency), New York, NY, assistant agent, 1984-85; Bantam Books, New York, NY, began as assistant editor, became editor, 1988-92; Balliett & Fitzgerald (book packagers), New York, NY, began as executive editor, became partner, 1993-2002. Lecturer on Civil War topics.
(With Lynne Arany and Gary Goldsmith) The Reel List (nonfiction), Dell (New York, NY), 1995.
Play for a Kingdom (fiction), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 1997.
Meet John Trow (novel), Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Will Balliett) The Hard Way: Writing by the Rebels Who Changed Sports, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Awake: Stories of Life-changing Epiphanies, Marlowe (New York, NY), 2001.
Life-changing Stories of Coming of Age, Marlowe (New York, NY), 2001.
Life-changing Stories of Forgiving and Being Forgiven, Marlowe & Co. (New York, NY), 2001.
Senior editor, Illumina Books, 2000-01.
ADAPTATIONS: Play for a Kingdom was adapted to audio cassette. Film rights to Meet John Trow were optioned by New Regency.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Researching the early years of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
SIDELIGHTS: Thomas Dyja writes on the topics of personal interest to him, including sports and history. In the former category he has produced The Hard Way: Writing by the Rebels Who Changed Sports. This book features more than a dozen case histories of men and women who influenced their respective sports and societies, from Billie Jean King and Jim Bouton to Dennis Rodman and Babe Didrickson. Wes Lukowsky of Booklist found that "race is a dominant theme" in the book, which spotlights the life of early twentieth-century heavyweight Jack Johnson, who overcame racial prejudice to rise in boxing, as well as "Jackie Robinson's struggles nearly a half-century later."
In 2002 Dyja parlayed his expertise in U.S. Civil War history to publish the novel Meet John Trow. Set in 1999, the book features protagonist Steven Armour, a middle-aged executive tired of the rat race and frustrated by his distracted and increasingly distant wife and children. He transplants his yuppie brood from New York City to rural Connecticut, where Steven finds what he needs in a Civil War re-enactment society. Assigned the role of John Trow, a "nonde-script soldier," as a Kirkus Reviews contributor described him, Steven finds the man's "unheroic life nevertheless begins to exert a strong fascination." This is compounded when Steven discovers Trow's secret romance with the wife of a superior officer. A contributor to Publishers Weekly praised Dyja's handling of the story, saying the author "charts Steven's identity crisis with sympathy and a healthy hint of sarcasm."
Dyja once told CA: "I have an old-fashioned view of literature: it is meant to educate and entertain. A great book is not about expression as much as it helps the reader understand other lives, other ways of life, other ways to live his or her own life. Literature exists not by its simple existence, but by what it does. I hope my work will always make readers think about how they live and how they can participate in a generous and beneficent vision of life. My favorite writers are Nelson Algren, Sherwood Anderson, E. M. Forster, and Graham Greene."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Aethlon, fall, 1998, review of Play for a Kingdom, p. 203.
Booklist, January 1, 2000, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Hard Way: Writing by the Rebels Who Changed Sports, p. 860.
Boston Herald, June 11, 2002, Judith Wynn, "Remembrance of Things Past Propels Delightful 'John Trow,'" p. 48.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2001, review of Awake: Stories of Life-changing Epiphanies, p. 842; May 1, 2002, review of Meet John Trow, p. 595.
Library Journal, March 15, 1998, review of Play for a Kingdom, p. 44; December, 1999, Morey Berger, review of The Hard Way, p. 144; August, 2002, Susan Zappia, review of Awake, p. 106.
New York Times Book Review, July 14, 2002, Adam Mazmanian, review of Meet John Trow, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002, review of Meet John Trow, p. 34.*