After 16 years of silence, Cormac McCarthy is back with two novels

The publisher Knopf announces the publication in the fall of 2022 in the United States of The Passenger and Stella Maris, two novels that make up a single story. The story of a passion, a clinical exploration of madness and a meditation on science and the uprooting of modern man. Release planned in France in March and May 2023.

We ended up not believing it! Since The road, his last novel published in the United States in 2006, crowned by the Pulitzer Prize and sold over a million copies, adapted to the cinema in 2009, we had no news of the great American novelist Cormac McCarthy.

Author of unforgettable novels like Suttree (1979), blood meridian (1985), Such pretty hair (1992) to name but a few titles by this not very prolific octogenarian author. Indeed, the writer born in Rhode Island on July 20, 1933, published only ten novels between The Guardian of the Orchard (1968) and The road. Difficult to sum up, this work is often described as belonging to the American Southern Gothic, the Western (The Border Trilogy) and the postapocalyptic novel. We could add the crazy noir novel with No, this country is not for the old man (2005) adapted by the Coen brothers in 2007.

In 2015, it was rumored in the United States that McCarthy was about to publish a novel called The Passenger. Since then, radio silence, if not an insistent rumor about the worrying state of health of the Nobel-winning writer. Nobelisable but forgotten by a Swedish Academy which, after Philip Roth and undoubtedly Joyce Carol Oates, is no longer a failure.

Another rumor was of a second novel being written. We only lend to the rich ! As the man is discreet and has always refused any interview about his work, this reinforces the paranoia. With the exception of his surreal passage in the television show ofOprah Winfrey in 2007, a kind of book club of the most prescribers, during which, faithful to his legend of a tall mute with piercing blue eyes, he pronounced ten words, silence all along the line.

Yesterday the New York Times broke the embargo of Knopf publishing which, in a press release, was about to announce the publication at the end of the year of McCarthy’s two novels, The Passenger October 25 and Stella Maris November 22. Books whose circulation will be 300,000 copies!

God, Truth and Existence

Knopf outlined the two storylines. The Passenger is the story of a rescue diver, haunted by the loss of a loved one, frightened by the aquatic depths and pursued for a conspiracy beyond his comprehension. 1980, Pass Christian, Mississippi: It’s three o’clock in the morning when Bobby Western zips up his wetsuit jacket and steps into the darkness from the deck of the boat. His dive lamp illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still strapped to their seats, hair flowing, eyes devoid of any speculation. The pilot’s flight bag, the plane’s black box and the tenth passenger disappeared from the crash site. But how ? Collateral witness to machinations that can only harm him, Western is followed closely by men wearing badges, by the ghost of his father (one of the inventors of the H-bomb) and by his sister, love and calvary of his soul. Traversing the American South, from the shacks of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the coast of Florida, The Passenger is a breathtaking novel about morality and science, the legacy of sin and the madness that is human conscience.

Stella Maris for its part, is an intimate portrait of grief and longing, as a young woman committed to a mental institution seeks to understand her own existence. 1972, Black River Falls, Wisconsin: Twenty-year-old Alicia Western, $40,000 in a plastic bag, gets admitted to the hospital. A PhD student in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alicia has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and does not want to talk about her brother Bobby. Instead, she questions the nature of madness, remembering a childhood when, at the age of seven, her own grandmother feared for her; it studies the relations between physics and philosophy; and she evokes her chimeras and the hallucinations that only she can see. Told entirely by the transcripts of Alicia’s psychiatry sessions, Stella Maris is complementary to The Passenger. It is a philosophical inquiry that challenges our notions of God, truth and existence.

This interest in these cutting-edge subjects will not surprise McCarthy specialists who know that for years the writer has been working with the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a multidisciplinary research center. From this frequentation, he also drew an essay, The Kekuke Problem in 2017, in which he is interested in the unconscious and the origins of language.

In France, Éditions de l’Olivier, which has published McCarthy since 1994 and all of whose editions of the road (large format and paperback at Points) sold more than 700,000 copies undertook the translation of this “unique work of its kind (because it is in fact two parts of the same story) which testifies to the extraordinary freedom of a writer capable of composing a great noir novel including the story of a passion, a clinical exploration of madness and a meditation on science and the uprooting of modern man,” said Olivier Cohen, head of Olivier editions, in a press release.

The two titles will be published in March and May 2023 and will undoubtedly be one of the events of this literary year.

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After 16 years of silence, Cormac McCarthy is back with two novels