Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Thomas Pynchon's new novel set in New York just before 9/11

Bleeding Edge, due in September, takes place in the city's failing 'Silicon Alley'

'Silicon Valley' in the Tribeca district of downtown Manhattan, where Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge is set. Photograph: Getty

The appetites of Thomas Pynchon's legion of fans will be whetted by the news that the cult favourite's forthcoming novel takes place in New York City's hi-tech zone of Silicon Alley.

Bleeding Edge, which will be published in America on 17 September this year, will be set in 2001 "in the lull between the collapse of the dotcom boom and the terrible events of September 11", said Pynchon's American publisher Penguin in its 2012 results announcement yesterday. The new novel follows 2009's LA-set private eye tale Inherent Vice, which takes place in the late 60s and is set to be adapted for film by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

"This is extremely exciting news. Pynchon is continually ranked among the greatest living American novelists and to see the exponential increase in his output in recent years is definitely of interest," said Martin Paul Eve, lecturer in English at the University of Lincoln, who helped instigate "Pynchon in Public" day, an annual celebration on 8 May where fans meet, read from Pynchon's novels and take pictures of muted post horns, the symbol familiar from Pynchon's novel The Crying of Lot 49. "While Inherent Vice didn't receive unanimous praise, love him or loathe him, a new Pynchon novel simply can't be ignored."

In the absence of further information from Penguin, Eve speculated that the novel would continue the history of Arpanet, the precursor to the internet that features in Inherent Vice. "I think the topic appeals because there's a lot of scope there for Pynchon's mischievous counter-histories to resurface," he said. "It's also of note that the press release explicitly mentions 9/11; this was something treated metaphorically in Pynchon's 2006 behemoth Against the Day. It looks like what we're seeing here is an amalgamation of Pynchon's Luddite stance, his fascination with detective fiction and the lifelong politics of his novels with the internet, contemporary capitalism and terrorism – all getting the treatment in one whirling set-up."

Pynchon's UK publisher Jonathan Cape said that the author was "still writing" Bleeding Edge, and that it had not yet been submitted to his editor.

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