About Alan Davison Williams
Alan D. Williams, a skilled and versatile editor and publisher of books by authors ranging from the thriller-writer Frederick Forsyth and the horror writer Stephen King to the novelist Nadine Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died on Sunday at his home in Jersey City, N.J. He was 72.
The cause was cancer, his daughter Marjorie Williams said.
Mr. Williams snapped up the United States rights to the action-adventure novel ''The Day of the Jackal'' by Mr. Forsyth, an Englishman who was little known in America until the book became a best seller after being edited by Mr. Williams and published in 1971 by Viking.
Thomas H. Guinzburg, former president of Viking, recalled yesterday that Viking paid Mr. Forsyth a modest sum, something like $8,500, for ''Jackal'' -- and then had to pay him $500,000, as Mr. Guinzberg remembered, for his second thriller, ''The Odessa File,'' which Viking brought out in 1972.
There was no author, however difficult, with whom Alan could not establish a workable rapport, Mr. Guinzburg said. He added that many writers have received long letters from Alan Williams in response to their manuscripts and have not known at the end of them whether or not he was rejecting their manuscript.