When he died of a heart attack last year at age 62, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos had been at work for more than a decade on an epic and potentially career-defining novel. It was a fact unknown to all but a few people closest to him.
Now Grand Central Publishing has acquired the 859-page novel, which is based on the friendship between Mark Twain and the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley. "Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise," will be published in the fall of 2015.
Grand Central will also publish Hijuelos' "Another Spaniard in the Works," a short story about a musician who meets John Lennon in 1980, the year the ex-Beatle was shot dead by a deranged fan, the AP reports. In the '60s, Lennon had published a book of humorous writings and drawings called "A Spaniard in the Works."
Lori Carlson-Hijuelos, his widow, told the New York Times that Hijuelos began writing the novel about Twain and Stanley around 2002. His research for the book took him to Wales, England and Belgium.
Carlson-Hijuelos said her husband had completed the novel. It was scheduled to go out to publishers but the submissions were postponed when he died. "Oscar worked on this novel up until the day before he died, but it was complete," she told the New York Times.
Hijuelos won the Pulitzer for the 1989 novel "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," a family epic set mostly in New York that tells the story of a pair of Cuban immigrant musicians. The last book published before he died was the 2011 memoir, "Thoughts Without Cigarettes."