Scribner, the longtime publisher of Ernest Hemingway, confirmed last week that Papa’s got a brand new book.
Next July, to commemorate what would have been Hemingway’s 100th birthday (July 21), the publisher will release “True at First Light,” a new fictional memoir about the roguish scribe’s last African safari. The novel also contains a love story, which is thought to detail an actual affair Hemingway had with an African woman while he was married to his fourth wife, Mary Welsh.
Hemingway’s son Patrick, who lived in Africa at the time and accompanied his father on this safari, has consented to edit the manuscript, which a source at Scribner said had “been in the closet for years.”
“True at First Light” is the last of four unfinished manuscripts to be published after his suicide in 1961, and was one of the manuscripts Mary smuggled out of Cuba during the onset of the Cuban revolution. The other three, “A Moveable Feast,” “Islands in the Stream” and “The Garden of Eden,” were published between 1964 and 1986.
While portions of “True” were serialized in Sports Illustrated in the early ’70s, the majority of the tome has never been published. And despite the fact that Hemingway had not finished his work on the book, a Scribner source says the manuscript reads like a complete narrative. It is described as a blend of fact and fiction that is more reflective and more humorous than many of his previous books.
During his fifth and final trip to Africa in the early 1950s, Hemingway was in two plane crashes that kept him from accepting his 1954 Nobel Prize at the ceremony in Stockholm.
“The Old Man and the Sea” (1954) was the last of his books to be published before his death.
Perhaps “True at First Light” — whose film rights are understood to be available — could spawn a revival of films based on Papa’s books. Despite Hollywood’s recent fascination with adapting the works of deceased authors, Hemingway’s tomes haven’t seen the popularity of scribes such as Jane Austen or Henry James. The last completed film that was based on one of his writings was “Nakhoda Khorshid,” a 1988 Iranian film adapted from “To Have and Have Not.”