Hey! This morning I put the finishing touches on my next novel! How great is that!

So what do I do next? Well, a few minutes later, going out to celebrate with a coffee, I sit down in an Upper West Side coffee bar (Birch, at 96th & Columbus) to discover right next to me a Korean-English translator. That, of course, quite naturally segues into a discussion of my earlier novel, Problems of Translation (which is still out there and going strong). To my delight, my coffee bar neighbor suggests she might be willing to translate Problems of Translation into Korean. This is an exciting enough result to come from a random encounter, but more than that, she and her two companions all become intensely interested in Problems. (They are even saying to their wide-eyed children, “Look, kids. We’re in the presence of a genuine author!” And how great was that!)

Well, I can’t predict which of the genuinely exemplary human beings that I met this morning at Birch will get their hands on a copy first, but consider yourself reminded that Problems is still out there, eager to tease and please! So all of you who’ve already read it and draped it in great reviews should immediately stock up on copies to send to your relatives and amigos as holiday gifts! (Come on! Doesn’t your Aunt Couraghessina deserve her own copy? And how about Cousin Hopalong?)

However, I began this blog post reveling in the excitement of finishing my new novel, The Condor’s Shadow, and so I shall continue. I’ve been working on Condor for a while now, since it has its origins in a short story I published some years ago (The Same, Volume 8, No. 2). There must have been a slow-acting yeast in that story, because in a dark corner of my mind the dough kept rising. Once the writing of Problems of Translation was completed, I resolved that I couldn’t leave my main character of that longago story twisting in the wind. So I wrote another story about him, and then another, and finally decided to fold all these separate stories into the same loaf pan and bake them into a novel.

Condor is a smaller book than Problems, but I’ve a hunch it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s completely within the realist tradition, though a colleague who’d read an earlier version was once heard to remark, referring to an incident midway through the book, “That’s preposterous! No cat would ever die by doing what you’ve described there!” Well. This cat does.

But, don’t you worry. That unfortunate feline’s fate is only a tiny crumb from the loaf I have baked. Trust me. It’s not all about cats. The story starts out this way: A teenager, living on an abandoned gypsum mine in the California foothills with an abusive father, shoots and kills an intruder and then flees up into the mountains, following the path of a bird he’s become obsessed with. Thus begins twenty years of life on the road for my hero, moving from state to state, town to town, changing his name often, until he gets brought up short–by love. So The Condor’s Shadow is a love story, as well as a story of survival and a struggle for redemption.

It’s not been published yet, obviously (since I just finished it!), but it shouldn’t be long. Just keep attending to those enticing aromas from the kitchen. I think you’ll want to gobble this loaf down in one sitting.

Problems of Translation - Front CoverMeanwhile, there’s Problems of Translation! Buy a copy for all your friends and relatives this season (it’s available on Amazon), and listen to them chuckle at what Gary Shteyngart called “An insanely funny adventure with a deep love of language at its belly-shaking core.”  And if you’ve read my Shelf Unbound Notable Book and liked it, please do leave a reader’s review on Amazon.  This “genuine author” will be very grateful!

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