Cover Stories: Sue Freestone; Margaret Busby; Zadie Smith

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The Independent Culture

It's two years since Sue Freestone, publishing director of Hutchinson, watched as her author Bill Clinton launched his memoirs. Much of the time since she's been off work, undergoing spinal surgery, though she has seen books by Sebastian Faulks and Stephen Fry into print. This week, she returned to the Random House-owned imprint - having decided to resign and seek adventure somewhere smaller. An old-school editor who almost literally held the late Douglas Adams's hand, and nurtured Fry, Faulks, Douglas Kennedy and Robert Harris Freestone has kept Hutchinson free of cynical cheque-book publishing. But smaller publishers are now where it's at. Maybe Anthony Cheetham's new Quercus imprint or Profile (now planning a fiction list) might extend a welcome.

* Another very special figure - pioneering black publisher and editor Margaret Busby - collected her OBE from Prince Charles last week, and then enjoyed a starry celebration hosted by High Commissioner Lindiwe Mabuza at South Africa House. Her cousin, newsreader Moira Stuart, praised the multi-talented woman "who embodies everything warmest and wisest in the family" to guests ranging from Joan Armatrading to Helena Kennedy. OBEs aside, in Ghana Busby has been invested as an Ashanti queen in her own right: Nana Akua Ackon I.

* It's been a good week for the Zadie Smith- Nick Laird ménage. Smith has just added a £3,500 Somerset Maugham Award to last week's Orange Prize win for On Beauty. Laird, her husband, won a £10,000 Betty Trask Award for his first novel, Utterly Monkey. The prizes were among the £70,000-worth presented by Roger McGough under the auspices of the Society of Authors.

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