Peter Matthiessen, award-winning author of more than 30 books, world-renowned naturalist, explorer, Buddhist teacher, and political activist, died on Saturday (4/5/14) after an illness of some months. He was 86 years old.
This week’s many moving remembrances and tributes to Matthiessen included pieces in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
and National Geographic
Among the last Matthiessen interviews conducted before his death were featured in The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine,
and Los Angeles Review of Books
National news outlets reached into their archives to honor Matthiessen’s legacy, PBS-TV / Newshour
featuring a 2008 interview; PBS-TV’s Charlie Rose Show
, a personal commentary by Rose preceding excerpts from his conversations with Matthiessen; and NPR’s Fresh Air
, sharing a 1989 interview by Terry Gross.
Matthiessen final book, In Paradise
, was published by Riverhead Books on Tuesday. “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 wrote, “Matthiessen’s work has always carried a powerful moral message.… In Paradise
is a logical conclusion to a long writing career.” 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.
Matthiessen is the only writer to win the National Book Award more than once – in fact three times, twice in two nonfiction categories for The Snow Leopard
, published in 1978, and in fiction three decades later for Shadow Country