Image credit: Linda Girvin
Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than thirty books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died at 5:15 pm on 5th April 2014, after an illness of some months. He was eighty-six years old.
Matthiessen is the only writer to win the National Book Award more than once – in fact three times, twice in two non-fiction categories for The Snow Leopard, published in 1978, and in fiction three decades later for Shadow Country. His final book, In Paradise, is scheduled to be published by Oneworld Publications on 24th April, 2014 and Riverhead Books on the 8th April . A novel inspired by a profound experience Matthiessen underwent as a participant in a Zen meditation retreat at Auschwitz in the 1990s, In Paradise is a powerful and uncompromising exploration of the legacy of evil and our unquenchable, imperfect desire to wrest good from it.
His British publisher Juliet Mabey writes: ‘We feel incredibly privileged to have been given the opportunity to publish Peter Matthiessen’s final novel, In Paradise, a very bold and deeply moving meditation on the legacy of the holocaust. It will prove a fitting tribute to a man who set himself extraordinarily high standards in life and in his writing.’
‘We are deeply honored to be custodians of Peter’s final, characteristically bold work of art,’ says Riverhead Books publisher Geoff Kloske, noting that the publication reunited Matthiessen with editorial director Rebecca Saletan, who had worked with him on several books since the early 1980s, initially under the auspices of Random House editorial director Jason Epstein. In a recent essay in The New York Review of Books, Tim Parks writes, ‘Matthiessen’s work has always carried a powerful moral message.… In Paradise is a logical conclusion to a long writing career.’
He is survived by his wife, the former Maria Eckhart, four children and two stepchildren.