Author and Zen Buddhist Peter Matthiessen announced the coming release of his newest novel In Paradise today, and it sounds like he'll be taking a somber tone it what could be his last book. "At age 86, it may be my last word," the Paris Review founding editor soberly wrote in a statement.
That death-is-coming approach probably accounted for some of the motivation for writing In Paradise, which will be released in Spring 2014 and is his first production since his National Book Award-winning Shadow Country, which he completed in 1999. In Paradise covers the emotion-filled tales of a group of people reflecting on life and death at a Holocaust concentration camp, a plot point influenced by Matthiessen's three Zen retreats to Auschwitz. As the press release explains:
In Paradise tells the story of a group of men and women come together for a weeklong meditation retreat at the site of a World War II concentration camp, and the grief, rage, bewildering transports, and upsetting revelations that surface during their time together.
Matthiessen added in the statement that he has wanted to write about the Holocaust for some time. Now, he is finally doing so, intent on conveying the "great strangeness" that he felt while visiting the site. A feeling that — based on his track record — we'll be able to experience next spring, if only vicariously.