Long before “Hallelujah” and the Grammys, a young Leonard Cohen wrote poetry and fiction, dreaming of literary fame.
A previously unpublished novel, “A Ballet of Lepers,” written by Cohen in 1956, will be published in the early fall by Grove Press in the US and Canongate in the UK.
The book is already available for preorders on several book sites, prior to its October 11, 2022, publication date.
As its name implies, “A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories,” includes a 91-page novel and 15 short stories. It also contains a radio play script pulled from Cohen’s archives.
The works were all written between 1956 and 1961 while Cohen was living in his hometown of Montreal.
Cohen died in November 2016, at age 82. He didn’t begin his musical career until 1967, when he was 33, with works that explored religion and politics, isolation and depression, sexuality, loss, death and relationships.
According to The Guardian, “A Ballet of Lepers” focuses on “toxic relationships and the lengths one will go to maintain them.”
The novel reflects upon difficulties that Cohen had with his own senile grandfather, depicting a patriarch given to fits of brutality that awaken violence in the narrator as well, reported The Guardian.
The collection was edited by Cohen scholar Alexandra Pleshoyano, who wrote an afterword to the assembled works.
According to a trustee of the Leonard Cohen family trust, Cohen said that his life’s true masterwork was his archive, kept meticulously for the benefit of fans and scholars to discover after his death.