In Paradise

Pages: 256
Imprint: Oneworld

In Paradise

Peter Matthiessen

The only writer ever to win National Book Awards for both fiction and non-fiction


9781780746081 (6 Nov 2014)
RRP £8.99

The Book


In Paradise tells the story of a group of men and women who come together for a weeklong meditation retreat at the site of a World War II concentration camp, and the grief, rage and upsetting revelations that surface during their time together. Even as it probes the suffering, conflicts, and longings of these diverse characters, In Paradise raises provocative and unanswerable metaphysical questions: what responsibility comes with bearing witness to such cruelty and tragedy; and what insights into the nature of good and evil may be lost in the next decade or two, as the last survivors of - and witnesses to - the death camps pass away. Having participated in three Zen retreats at Auschwitz beginning in the 1990s, Matthiessen had long wished to comment on the ongoing fallout of last century's global catastrophe, but ‘as a non-Jewish American journalist, I felt unqualified to do so, I felt I had no right. But approaching it as fiction - as a novelist, an artist - I eventually decided that I did. Only fiction would allow me to probe from a variety of viewpoints the great strangeness of what I had felt.'

Additional Information

Pages 256
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Peter Matthiessen is the author of more than thirty books and the only writer to win the National Book Award for both non-fiction (The Snow Leopard, in two categories, in 1979 and 1980) and fiction (Shadow Country, in 2008). A co-founder of The Paris Review and a world-renowned naturalist, explorer and activist, he died in April 2014.


‘Skilful… affecting and powerful… In Paradise gets at the heart of the defining tragic enigma of the 20th century… [It] is Matthiessen's complex and worthy adieu' 

- Jane Smiley, Guardian

‘Lucid, compelling… A masterclass in fiction… Stunning' 

- Irish Times

‘Powerfully lyrical and atmospheric'

- Observer

‘A curious, risky novel'

- Literary Review

‘A moving valedictory for one of America's most wide-ranging and poetical writers… compelling… vivid… hypnotic'

- Financial Times

‘The best passages here are beautifully observed evocations of the place… There is much to meditate on and many reasons to read this novel'

- The Times

‘Darkly humorous… [In Paradise] gives no hint of the writer's age or declining physical powers. The maturity of its insights, and its emotional restraint, are the only signs the author is not a youth'

- The Herald

'His writing does every justice to the blood and fury of his themes.'

- Don DeLillo

‘The fiction of Peter Matthiessen is the reason a lot of people in my generation decided to be writers.' 


- Richard Ford

 ‘A dark but thoroughly testing, ambitious and thought-provoking novel'

- Curious Animal