West Virginia Book Festival

New Pearl S. buck book coming in October

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It’s been more than 40 years since Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, a native of Hillsboro in Pocahontas County and winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize for literature, died.

Thus, you would think the chances of reading something new by her would be nonexistent.

You would be wrong.

This week, Open Road Integrated Media announced that an unpublished manuscript, finished shortly before Buck’s death in 1973, will be published in October. The novel’s title is “The Eternal Wonder,” and it was found in a storage unit in Texas and returned to Buck’s family last year “for a small fee,” as The New York Times delicately puts it.

Open Road says the novel is “the coming-of-age story of a gifted young man whose search for meaning leads him to New York, England, Paris and a mission patrolling the demilitarized zone in Korea.”

Buck’s most famous book is “The Good Earth,” a story of Chinese farmers that was a huge critical and commercial success in the early 1930s. That was the second book she had published — and despite writing dozens more over the remaining decades of her life, she never matched her early success. Peter Conn, author of a well-received biography of Buck, told the Times that, with a few exception, the quality of her books started to slip in the 1940s.

So chances are, “The Eternal Wonder” will be a footnote in the Pearl Buck canon. But four decades after her death, that’s still enough to get excited about.

On the blog at the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace site, Michael Toler notes that the Kindle e-book version of the new book is already available for pre-order, and that any orders placed through the links on their site benefit the Hillsboro site.