The Pale King by David Foster Wallace is the latest in a long line of novels to be published posthumously. Putting aside collections of writing, readers are always eager for one more opportunity to devour an original work from a much-loved author who has departed for the great celestial book tour (although we think Charles Bukowski went in the other direction).
The Stieg Larsson phenomenon of recent years has seen his Millennium trilogy enjoy massive worldwide popularity even though the author died a year before his first novel was published. Franz Kafka and John Kennedy Toole were others to only receive recognition after their deaths.
It’s common for unfinished works to be completed by an editor, a fellow writer or even a member of the author’s family. Sometimes the work is finished and printed against the author’s wishes. After an author’s death, publishers scour their vaults for unpublished manuscripts that can prolong sales. This process can backfire with books that were originally considered sub-standard, by the author at least, rushed into print. And then you have Anne Frank’s diary – a book so powerful that it remains essential reading more 65 years after the end of World War II.
Here is some of the best after the writer was laid to rest.
by E.M. Forster
Forster died in 1970 & Maurice was published in 1971.
by Roberto Bolaño
Bolaño died in 2003 & 2666 was published 2004.
A Moveable Feast
by Ernest Hemingway
Papa died in 1961 & his memoir was published 1964.
The Last Tycoon
by F Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald died in 1940 & Last Tycoon was published in 1941.
by Stieg Larsson
Larsson died in 2004 & his first novel was published in Swedish in 2005.
by Irène Némirovsky
Némirovsky died in Auschwitz in 1942 & Suite was published in 2004.
The Third Policeman
by Brian O'Nolan writing as Flann O'Brien
O’Nolan died in 1966 & Third Policeman was published in 1967.
by Agatha Christie
Christie died in Jan 1976 & Ms Marple’s last case was published in Oct 1976.
by Jane Austen
Austen died in 1817 & this novel was published later the same year.
by Ralph Ellison
Ellison died in 1994 & Juneteeth was published five years later.
by Siobhan Dowd
Dowd died from breast cancer in 2007 & Bog Child was published in 2008.
The Way of All Flesh
by Samuel Butler
Butler died in 1902 & Flesh was published in 1903 (20 years after it was written).
A Death in the Family
by James Agee
Agee died in 1955 & Death was published in 1957, winning a Pulitzer a year later.
by Franz Kafka
Kafka died in 1924. He wanted unpublished work burned - Der Process was printed in 1925.
by Dorothy L. Sayers
Sayers died in 1957 & this book was completed by someone else and printed in 1998.
The Double Tongue
by William Golding
Golding died in 1993 & Double Tongue was published in 1995.
by John Wyndham
Wyndham died in 1969 & this sci-fi novel was published 10 years later.