Details on Nicholson Baker’s New Book

Thanks to Julia Prosser, here is what I’ve been able to find out about Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke. There is not yet a subtitle to this 800 page opus, but the book is described as “a meticulously researched, astonishingly new perspective of the political, social, religious, and economic events throughout the world in the years preceding World War II—an invaluable work of nonfiction and an impassioned, persuasive call for pacifism.”

The book’s editor is Sarah Hochman, who has also edited the German writer Maxim Biller.

The release that I have also describes it as “a unique, deeply moving indictment of the treasured myths that have romanticized much of the 1930s and ‘40s—and a testament to non-violence and pacifism that applies as much to our own age as to any other.”

It also describes Human Smoke as “weav[ing] together the events and individuals that unnecessarily enabled or prolonged the irreparable damages of the war, including hundreds of often-overlooked facts, quotes, and articles that were frequently published in The New York Times, TIME, and countless other sources, which have been easily accessible to readers for generations.”

So yeah, I’d say that we might be seeing a good deal of that Baker-like precision here. The big question is just what specific elements Baker will be looking into to support his thesis for pacifism.


  1. I can’t wait. Baker seems to get more ambitious with each book, and this sounds like the capper.

    Amazon also has a stub page stub page that gives the release date as March 2008.

  2. Wow. I wasn’t at all interested in the question of what Baker’s new book was going to be (I loved both Mezzanine and U and I, but Vox was irritating, and I don’t follow him closely) when you first blogged about trying to find out. But this sounds fascinating.

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