When it comes to posthumous releases, Leonard Cohen is our man. McClelland & Stewart has announced the forthcoming publication of A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories.
“Leonard said before his death that his life’s true masterwork was his archive, which he kept meticulously for the benefit of fans and scholars one day to discover,” said lawyer Robert Kory, the overseer of Cohen-related product.
Edited and with an afterword by Cohen expert Alexandra Pleshoyano, the book will be released on Oct. 11, in hardcover, electronic and audio formats.
The material of A Ballet of Lepers was written between 1956 in Montreal (just as Cohen was publishing his first poetry collection), and 1961, when he’d settled on Greece’s Hydra island. It encompasses short stories and the script for a radio play, in addition to the short novel A Ballet of Lepers, which was Cohen’s first work of extended fiction. The novel was completed in 1957 and rejected by two publishers, according to Cohen biographer Ira Nadel in his book Various Positions.
The novel tells the story of a 35-year-old salesclerk who takes in his violence-prone grandfather in a cramped downtown Montreal rooming house. According to Nadal, it begins with “My grandfather came to live with me. There was nowhere else for him to go. What had happened to all his children? Death, decay, exile – I hardly know.”
The introductory poetic passage is typical of the dark themes often explored by the Montreal-born poet, novelist and singer-songwriter who died in his sleep in 2016 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 82. Music and writing released since then include 2018′s The Flame, a compilation of poetry, prose, drawings and journal entries.
In 2019, Columbia Records issued Thanks for the Dance, the fedora-topped troubadour’s 15th and purportedly final studio album. At the time of its release, Cohen’s son, the musician Adam Cohen, told The New York Times that Thanks for the Dance should not be considered an album of “discarded songs or B-sides.”
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