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Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos in California in 2017. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos in California in 2017. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)

‘The Book Worm’

With news of Jeff Bezos’ $137 billion divorce, attention turns to wife MacKenzie’s literary ambitions

By WITW Staff on January 15, 2019

Novelist MacKenzie Bezos and her husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced that they would be pursuing a divorce last week, spiking interest in the fiercely private writer, who will likely become one of the world’s richest women after the couple split their estimated $137 billion fortune.

The announcement of the upcoming divorce was made on Mr. Bezos’ Twitter on Wednesday in a shared statement, that revealed they had “decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends.”

Ms. Bezos, 48, has up till now often been defined by her relationship to her husband’s trillion dollar online marketplace — in spite of her critical success as novelist. A self-proclaimed bookish introvert who has largely avoided the public eye, she had previously spoken to Vogue about meeting Jeff, then a co-worker, while working as an administrative assistant in order to support herself as she pursued her writing. The two dated for three months and then married: at the time, Mr. Bezos was 30 and Ms. Bezos was 23.

When he left his job to found a fledgling online book retailer, she helped brainstorm names for the company, served as its first accountant, and even helped to ship early orders. Brad Stone, a veteran technology reporter who once famously drew Ms. Bezos’ ire over his book about Amazon’s early days, The Everything Store, told The New York Times that the novelist “was clearly a voice in the room in those early years.”

But with news of the couple’s upcoming divorce, renewed attention has been brought to Ms. Bezos’ identity as a writer. According to her author biography on Amazon, her first literary work was a 142-page chapter book titled The Book Worm that she wrote at the tender age of 6. She went to college at Princeton, where she studied creative writing under Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, who called the young writer “one of the best students I’ve ever had.” Morrison later hired Bezos as a research assistant for her 1992 novel, Jazz. In 2005, when Bezos published her debut novel, The Testing of Luther Albright, Morrison hailed it as “a rarity: a sophisticated novel that breaks and swells the heart.” Bezos’ debut would go on to win broad critical acclaim — including an American Book Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement. She published her second novel, Traps, in 2013.

Interestingly, Bezos opted for traditional publishing houses for her books instead of publishing through Amazon. According to The New York Times, it appears that at least some independent retailers opted not to stock copies of her work in protest of Amazon’s undercutting of traditional book stores. In anticipation of her upcoming divorce, some publishers are already reportedly courting her to write a potential blockbuster tell-all memoir. But for now, the writer is keeping quiet as to her future plans — including what she might do with her share of the Amazon fortune.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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