The Passenger, Stella Maris, new novels by Cormac McCarthy

12 March 2022

After a sixteen year hiatus, American author Cormac McCarthy, whose last book, The Road, was written in 2006, will publish two new novels later this year. Both stories are connected, and will be released a month apart. The first title, The Passenger, arrives in bookshops on 25 October 2022:

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.

The second book, Stella Maris, set eight years earlier, is based on the treatment transcripts of Bobby’s sister Alicia, who is a patient at a psychiatric hospital, and will be released on 22 November 2022:

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.

While I haven’t yet read The Road, I did see John Hillcoat’s harrowing 2009 film adaptation, starring Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, and a then young Kodi Smit-McPhee.

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