Jonah Lehrer’s British publisher Canongate has withdrawn his book Imagine from sale, following the former New Yorker writer’s admission that he made up quotes from Bob Dylan for the bestselling title.
Lehrer, a staff writer for the New Yorker, admitted at the start of this week that he had falsified quotes from the singer in Imagine, a non-fiction title which explores the “profound mysteries of creative thought”. His confession followed extensive research by the journalist Michael Moynihan, which saw Moynihan ask Lehrer about the provenance of six Dylan quotes in the book.
In a statement resigning from the New Yorker, Lehrer said on Monday that “the quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said. The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologise to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed.”
Both Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, its US publisher, and Canongate have now removed the book from sale. Canongate said that in the light of Lehrer’s statement it “has decided, with immediate effect, to take the ebook and audiobook of Imagine off sale and halt shipment of physical copies”.