Peter Matthiessen, a National Book Award winner, Zen teacher, in the Zen Peacemakers tradition, and a founder of The Paris Review, has written a new novel, his publisher said on Tuesday.
Roshi Matthiessen, a renowned writer of fiction and nonfiction, said in a statement that “at age 86, it may be my last word.”
The book, “In Paradise,” is the story of a group that comes 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,” the publisher, Riverhead Books, said in a statement. Riverhead will release it in spring 2014.
The novel will be Matthiessen’s first since “Shadow Country,” a compilation of three previous novels. “Shadow Country” won the National Book Award in 2008.
Matthiessen, who has participated in three Zen retreats at Auschwitz, said he has long wanted to write about the Holocaust, but that because he is not Jewish, he did not feel qualified. “But approaching it as fiction — as a novelist, an artist — I eventually decided that I did,” he said. “Only fiction would allow me to probe from a variety of viewpoints the great strangeness of what I had felt.”