By Peter Matthiessen
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594633171, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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The bestselling final novel by a writer of incomparable range, power, and achievement, a three-time winner of the National Book Award.
Peter Matthiessen was a literary legend, the author of more than thirty acclaimed books. In this, his final novel, he confronts the legacy of evil, and our unquenchable desire to wrest good from it.
One week in late autumn of 1996, a group gathers at the site of a former death camp. They offer prayer at the crematoria and meditate in all weathers on the selection platform. They eat and sleep in the sparse quarters of the Nazi officers who, half a century before, sent more than a million Jews in this camp to their deaths. Clements Olin has joined them, in order to complete his research on the strange suicide of a survivor. As the days pass, tensions both political and personal surface among the participants, stripping away any easy pretense to resolution or healing. Caught in the grip of emotions and impulses of bewildering intensity, Olin is forced to abandon his observer’s role and to bear witness, not only to his family’s ambiguous history but to his own.
Profoundly thought-provoking, In Paradise is a fitting coda to the luminous career of a writer who was for all readers. He was for the world” (National Geographic).
Peter Matthiessen was a three-time National Book Award winner (twice in two nonfiction categories for The Snow Leopard, published in 1978, and again in fiction in 2008 for Shadow Country) and the author of more than thirty books, as well as a world renowned naturalist, explorer, and activist. A cofounder of the Paris Review, he was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a recipient of its William Dean Howells Award, a State Author of New York, and a recipient of the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities, among many other honors. A longtime student of Zen Buddhism, Matthiessen eventually became a priest of the White Plum Asanga. He lived for more than 60 years on the South Fork of Long Island, where he worked as a commercial fisherman in his twenties and died on April 5, 2014.
The late Peter Matthiessen's last novel follows a fractious group of attendees at an Auschwitz memorial conference as they bear witness to one of history's greatest atrocities. More at NPR.org
Fresh Air listens back to our 1989 interview with Snow Leopard author and Paris Review co-founder Peter Matthiessen, who died Saturday at age 86. His new novel In Paradise comes out Tuesday. More at NPR.org
At 86, Matthiessen has written what he says "may be his last word." In Paradise, a novel about a visit to a Nazi extermination camp, caps a career spanning six decades and 33 books. More at NPR.org