Viking Books

Viking Books


The Viking Press was founded in New York City on March 1, 1925, by Harold K. Guinzburg and George S. Oppenheimer. Their founding creed: “To publish a strictly limited list of good nonfiction, such as biography, history and works on contemporary affairs, and distinguished fiction with some claim to permanent importance rather than ephemeral popular interest.” The firm’s name and its logo, a Viking ship drawn by Rockwell Kent, were chosen as symbols of enterprise, adventure, and exploration in publishing. Launched in the fall of 1925, early Viking lists included books by August Strindberg, Carl van Doren, Vita Sackville-West, Mohandas Gandhi, Bertrand Russell, and Thorstein Veblen.

By the late ’30s, legendary editor Pascal Covici joined the company bringing John Steinbeck with him, and after publishing Steinbeck’s first novel, Viking brought out The Grapes of Wrath (1939), as well as the first American edition of James Joyce‘s Finnegans Wake (1939) and Graham Greene‘s Brighton Rock (1938). Steinbeck and Greene would continue to publish with Viking for many years to come.

The 1950s saw the publication of American playwright Arthur Miller‘s Death of a Salesman (1949) and The Crucible (1953) by Viking. Saul Bellow began his long tenure at Viking with his third novel, The Adventures of Augie March, which won the year’s National Book Award in 1953. Many award-winning novels followed, culminating with Bellow being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976. And the classic novel of the Beat Generation, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, was published by Viking in 1957, followed one year later by The Dharma Bums. As Kerouac’s (and Ken Kesey‘s) publisher, Viking was at the center of the cultural shift that would occur in the 1960s and ’70s, also publishing William S. BurroughsHannah ArendtPeter Matthiessen, Barbara Tuchman, Wallace StegnerOctavio PazKingsley AmisRobert Coover, Lawrence Durrell, Frederick Forsyth, and Thomas Pynchon(whose Gravity’s Rainbow won the 1973 National Book Award). In 1975, Viking was bought by Penguin Books, and the company became known as Viking Penguin.

Viking Penguin’s prestigious Booker Prize-winning authors include Roddy Doyle for his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, and J. M. Coetzee, who became the first author to win the prize twice, for Life and Times of Michael K in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999. Coetzee went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.

Viking continues to select works and authors who garner awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for Geraldine Brooks’ novel March in 2006.  Manning Marable won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography Malcolm X in 2012.  Recent winners of the National Book Award include Nathaniel Philbrick, who captured the prize in 2000 for In the Heart of the Sea, and William T. Vollmann, who won in 2005 for his novel Europe CentralTana French won the 2012 L.A. Times Books Prize for her thriller Broken Harbor and A.M. Homes won the prestigious Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2013 for her novel May We Be Forgiven.

Recent successes continue to shape the thinking of the world and capture the spirit of the times. Viking is proud to publish Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth GilbertIn the Heart of the Sea and Bunker Hill by Nathaniel Philbrick, Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin, The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Anticancer by David Servan-Schreiber,  The All Souls Trilogy: A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, Faithful Place and The Likeness by Tana FrenchA Delicate Truth by John LeCarré, Who Asked You? by Terry McMillan, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, which was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize.  In 2014, Viking has already published Sue Monk Kidd’s newest novel, The Invention of Wings, and looks forward to publishing James Madison by Lynne Cheney, The Nixon Defense by John Dean, The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker, and Redeeming the Dream by Ted Olson & David Boies.


The Nobel Prize for Literature

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

The Pulitzer Prize for History

The National Book Award

The National Book Critics Circle Award

The Booker Prize

The Pen/Faulkner Award for American Fiction

The PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Novel

The PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Best First Book of Nonfiction

The PEN/Ralph Manheim Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Translation

The MacArthur Prize

The Whiting Award

The Wolfson History Prize

Viking Books Newsroom

October 3, 2014

Viking/Penguin author Elizabeth Gilbert will be interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for two full episodes of OWN’s Super Soul Sunday! The first show will air this Sunday, October 5, and will center on lessons Gilbert learned from her year long quest around the world in Eat, Pray, Love. Her latest novel The Signature of All Things will also be mentioned […]

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Ruth Ozeki_A Tale for the Time Being
August 15, 2014

Ruth Ozeki has won the 2014 Medici Book Club Prize for A Tale for the Time Being. The prize aims to recognize “a distinguished work of fiction that has inspired thoughtful conversation and contributed to a deeper understanding of the human experience” and will be awarded on October 18th. A Tale for the Time Being previously […]

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Lev Grossman_The Magician's Land
August 14, 2014

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list this week! This is Grossman’s first #1 ever, and it was preluded by a media storm: in the New York Times, Sarah Lyall called The Magicians a “wonderful trilogy…If the Narnia books were like catnip for a certain kind […]

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New Releases

Bessel van der Kolk MD
Armand Marie Leroi


Dan Jones
Daniel James Brown
Adam M. Grant Ph.D.
Lev Grossman

Coming Soon

Ken Robinson
Lou Aronica
George Hodgman
Reid Mitenbuler

Award Winners

Sue Monk Kidd
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Sue Monk Kidd

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Elizabeth Gilbert talks about one of her favorite novels in this video exclusive from Google Play. #SOAT   2013-10-01 17:10:52

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