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Juris Jurjevics, Enterprising Publisher and Novelist, Dies at 75

Category: Art & Culture,Books

He explained to Washington Independent Review of Books in 2011 why he had turned to writing. “I’ve been around it forever as an editor, mostly working on fixing whatever was ailing an author’s book,” he said. “I harbored the ambition but had little time to devote to it.”

Juris Jurjevics was born on April 26, 1943, in Tukums, Latvia, to Arveds Jurjevics and Elza Sudmalis. He and his family lived in refugee camps in Germany until they immigrated to New York in 1950.

After graduating from Concordia Preparatory School in Bronxville, N.Y., he attended Valparaiso University in Indiana and was drafted into the Army. When he returned, he went to work for Harper & Row (now HarperCollins), where he founded an employee union, and became an editor Avon Books, a Harper subsidiary.

Mr. Jurjevics was later editor in chief of E. P. Dutton, where one day he scooped up a manuscript that had crossed his desk on a hunch that readers would clamor for a Sherlock Holmes revival. The manuscript, by Nicholas Meyer, was published in 1974 as “The Seven‐Per‐Cent Solution: Being a Reprint From the Reminiscences of John H. Watson, M.D.” It became a best seller, and the basis of a 1976 movie.

As the editor in chief of the Dial Press, Mr. Jurjevics edited James Baldwin’s final novel, “Just Above My Head” (1979). He recently completed his third novel, titled “Play the Red Queen.”

Mr. Jurjevics married Laurie Colwin, a novelist and short story writer, in 1983. After she died of a heart attack in 1992 at the age of 48, her reputation grew as a food writer, too. In 2012 she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.

In addition to their child, RF, Mr. Jurjevics is survived by his second wife, the artist Jeanne Heifetz, whom he married in 1998; and his sister, Ruta Elken. He lived in Brooklyn.

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