Whatever your opinion of Paul Auster, he’s an interesting guy. His translations, his autobiographical writings (like the endearingly funny Hand to Mouth: A Chronicle of Early Failure) and his novels (including The New York Trilogy, a surrealistic take on noir thrillers) all offer different pieces of what may not even be a single puzzle. While I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to work through everything he’s written, if I happen to see something of his at a used bookstore, I’ll grab it without a second thought.
I recently picked up Leviathan and The Book of Illusions. Which is good, because I need to get warmed up to tackle the nearly 1,000-page novel of his that’s coming out next year. That would be 4 3 2 1, set to be released in early 2017 as announced yesterday by Faber & Faber.
The story will follow Archibald Isaac Ferguson, an only child born in Newark in 1947, along four different parallel lives. These details are new, and the announcement of the book is also relatively new to the English-speaking world, but news of this mega-novel appeared in a French-language article put out by La Presse (a Montreal publication) in April of this year and was mentioned in a post on The Literary Saloon, after which it proceeded to make a small splash on Twitter.
Is Paul Auster publishing a 1,000-page novel next year? https://t.co/cQvKOVPmCP
— Ted Gioia (@tedgioia) 4 mai 2016
new 1,000-page book by Paul Auster coming in 2017. 🔥 or 😭 ?
— Scott Esposito (@ScottEsposito) 9 mai 2016
According to the La Presse article, Auster said he was exhausted from writing the book and that it was like he had been living in a bunker for three years. At that point he said the manuscript was more than 1,100 pages and that his editor had told him it would probably end up being around 925.
The article quotes him directly as saying that this would be the case “en anglais.” I’m not sure if that means that he actually wrote the book in French or was actually speaking in French at the time, though since this is Paul Auster, either or both is entirely possible.
In any case, the final page count according to the hardcover product details on Amazon has it at 880. Not quite as dramatic as 1,000, but as Auster said (again quoting from La Presse), “C’est quand même beaucoup de pages à écrire!” or “That’s still a lot of pages to write!”