Cormac McCarthy has two novels coming out later this year: The Passenger and Stella Maris. Speculation about The Passenger has percolated for years, with increased interest after McCarthy read excerpts at the Santa Fe Institute in August of 2015. The reading was captured on video and disseminated on the internet and subsequently transcribed (stirring protest from the Cormac McCarthy Society).
A story in The New York Times reports that The Passenger and Stella Maris “represent a major stylistic and thematic departure for McCarthy” and that his “longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, will release” the novels a month apart this fall.
As of now, Knopf’s website doesn’t include any info about the novels, but the NYT story does include what appears to be cover art:
McCarthy’s UK publisher, Pan Macmillan, does have some info on their website about the books, which will apparently be released in a “box set” edition in the UK.
Pan Macmillan also offers some descriptions of the books:
1980, PASS CHRISTIAN, MISSISSIPPI: It is three in the morning when Bobby Western zips the jacket of his wetsuit and plunges from the boat deck into darkness. His divelight illuminates the sunken jet, nine bodies still buckled in their seats, hair floating, eyes devoid of speculation. Missing from the crash site are the pilot’s flightbag, the plane’s black box, and the tenth passenger. But how? A collateral witness to machinations that can only bring him harm, Western is shadowed in body and spirit – by men with badges; by the ghost of his father, inventor of the bomb that melted glass and flesh in Hiroshima; and by his sister, the love and ruin of his soul. Traversing the American South, from the garrulous bar rooms of New Orleans to an abandoned oil rig off the Florida coast, The Passenger is a breathtaking novel of morality and science, the legacy of sin, and the madness that is human consciousness.
1972, BLACK RIVER FALLS, WISCONSIN: Alicia Western, twenty years old, with forty thousand dollars in a plastic bag, admits herself to the hospital. A doctoral candidate in mathematics at the University of Chicago, Alicia has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she does not want to talk about her brother, Bobby. Instead, she contemplates the nature of madness, the human insistence on one common experience of the world; she recalls a childhood where, by the age of seven, her own grandmother feared for her; she surveys the intersection of physics and philosophy; and she introduces her cohorts, her chimeras, the hallucinations that only she can see. All the while, she grieves for Bobby, not quite dead, not quite hers. Told entirely through the transcripts of Alicia’s psychiatric sessions, Stella Maris is a searching, rigorous, intellectually challenging coda to The Passenger, a philosophical inquiry that questions our notions of God, truth, and existence.
McCarthy is now 88. His last novel, The Road, came out sixteen years ago. He also wrote the screenplay for The Counselor (2013, dir. Ridley Scott), and some nonfiction stuff. My guess is that these two novels are likely the last we’ll get from him. But I hope not.
Here are two photographs of Cormac McCarthy playing pool in El Paso, Texas, in 1998: