Last novel of Pulitzer winner Oscar Hijuelos to be published posthumously

'Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise' is set to be published in the Fall of 2015. 

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    This Sept. 7, 2000 file photo shows author Oscar Hijuelos at a VIP reception at the Hispanic Heritage Awards in Washington. A novel completed by Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos shortly before his death in 2013 will be published in the Fall of 2015.
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Oscar Hijuelos, author of "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," will have a new novel coming out soon.

The new novel, which will be a posthumous release, has the potential to become a defining work by an already famous author whose career was tragically cut short. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author had been working on the book obsessively almost until the day he died in October 2013.

The new book, "Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise," is set to be published in Fall 2015.

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According to the The New York Times, Hijuelos had been working on "Twain" for 12 years. Only a few people knew that the work was even being written when he announced to his literary agent that he was ready to send the manuscript to publishers. He died only two days before the manuscript was supposed to be sent.

The manuscript in question is an exhaustively researched historical novel about the friendship between Mark Twain and the Welsh explorer Henry Morton Stanley, according to the A.V. Club. The subject is a bit of a departure for Hijuelos, who is known primarily for his works about immigrant experiences in the US.

Although Hijuelos was born in Manhattan, both of his parents originally came from Cuba, and their experiences inspired much of his work.  The author won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for "Mambo Kings" in 1990, becoming the first person of Latin descent to win the award. The work also spawned a film adaptation in 1992 and a musical in 2005. In 2000, Hijuelos won the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature.

"Twain" would have only been the latest in a series of highly successful and critically acclaimed works of literature by a great author. When Oscar Hijuelos died, however, his wife, Lori Carlson-Hijuelos, was too upset to pursue publication of the manuscript right away.

“I was in such pain that I couldn't even think of that,” she said, according to The New York Times.

Finally, in March, she made the decision to send the 859-page manuscript to a handful of editors in hopes that her late husband's work would see the light of day as he originally intended.

“Oscar worked on this novel up until the day before he died, but it was complete,” she told the Times. “I realized it would be better to have it published sooner rather than later.”

Grand Central Publishing purchased rights to publish the novel, as well as a previously unpublished short story.

The short story, entitled "Another Spaniard in the Works." is about a musician who meets John Lennon in 1980, the year the former member of the Beatles was assassinated, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to "Twain" and the short story, there was one other novel in the works by Hijuelos, a 700-page manuscript about two archaeologists who fall in love, according to The New York Times. However, that book is incomplete, and Lori Carlson-Hijuelos said that she had no plans to send it out to potential publishers.

“I may never seek its publication,” she said. “I see ‘Twain and Stanley’ as Oscar’s crowning achievement.”

“He’s alive in the manuscript, and we can still share his words with his fans,” said Gretchen Young, vice president and executive editor of Grand Central Publishing, to the New York Times.

"Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise" will be released sometime in the fall of 2015, though a specific date has not been set.

Weston Williams is a Monitor contributor.

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