Thursday, July 23, 2009

Unfinished Foster Wallace novel finds UK publisher

Hamish Hamilton says The Pale King is 'as good as Infinite Jest' and will publish it in 2010.

The late David Foster Wallace's unfinished final novel, The Pale King, is set for publication in the UK next year following an intensely contested auction between six British publishers.

Foster Wallace, author of the virtuosic, 1,000-page masterpiece Infinite Jest, killed himself last September following a long depression. His wife discovered piles of a manuscript for the novel Foster Wallace had described as the "Long Thing" in their garage, and detailed structural outlines have subsequently come to light.

"I think it's as good as Infinite Jest. I'm really, really blown away by what I've read," said Simon Prosser, publishing director of Penguin imprint Hamish Hamilton, who won the battle for UK rights. "It's absolutely incredible. The level of writing is so high. It's just so tremendously sad that he didn't realise how close he was to what he wanted to achieve."

Always critical of his own work, Foster Wallace struggled to write The Pale King, corresponding with Jonathan Franzen and Don DeLillo about his worries, telling Franzen that in order to complete it he would have to write "a 5,000 page manuscript and then winnow it by 90%, the very idea of which makes something in me wither and get really

interested in my cuticle, or the angle of the light outside". He compared writing it to "trying to carry a sheet of plywood in a windstorm", his longterm editor Michael Pietsch told the New Yorker.

- Alison Flood, The

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