Canongate announces release of previously unpublished Leonard Cohen novel and stories, A Ballet of Lepers

Canongate is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories, a collection of Leonard Cohen’s early fiction, which documents the development of one of the greatest artists of our time.

Drawn from a rich archive of previously unpublished material, the book will delight Cohen’s fans around the world, and prove that the magic that animated Cohen’s unforgettable body of work was present from the very beginning.

Written between 1956 in Montreal, just as Cohen was publishing his first poetry collection, and 1961, when he’d settled on Greece’s Hydra island, the pieces in this collection offer a startling insight into Cohen’s imagination and creative process. Across short fiction, a radio play, and, most stunningly, an early novel—one he later remarked was ‘probably a better novel’ than his celebrated book The Favourite Game—Cohen’s visceral genius is on full display.

Robert Kory, Trustee of the Leonard Cohen Family Trust, said: ‘Leonard said before his death that his life’s true masterwork was his archive, which he kept meticulously for the benefit of fans and scholars one day to discover. I’m pleased that, with this book, his readers and listeners can begin that rich journey.’

Francis Bickmore, Canongate’s Publisher at Large, said: ‘A Ballet of Lepers reminds us why Leonard Cohen has been celebrated for his storytelling for six decades. The unpublished novel and stories here are superb additions to the Cohen canon. Thanks to the discoveries in the Leonard Cohen Archive, his fans are in for a huge and unexpected treat. Canongate is immensely proud to be publishing this book in October and keeping the flame alive.’

Jared Bland, Publisher of McClelland & Stewart, said: ‘A Ballet of Lepers is the visionary work of a truly great artist, and we are thrilled that Cohen fans will now be able to know his particular genius even more intimately.’

The book, assembled and with an afterword by noted Cohen scholar Alexandra Pleshoyano, will be published by Canongate on October 11, 2022 in hardcover, electronic and audio formats. It will be simultaneously published by McClelland and Stewart in Canada and Grove in the US.