Before the celebrated late-career world tours, before the Grammy awards, before the chart-topping albums, before ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘So Long, Marianne’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, the young Leonard Cohen wrote poetry and fiction and yearned for literary stardom.
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 startling insight into Cohen’s imagination and creative process, and explore themes that would permeate his later work, from shame and unworthiness to sexual desire to longing, whether for love, family, freedom or transcendence. The titular novel, A Ballet of Lepers – one he later remarked was ‘probably a better novel’ than his celebrated book The Favourite Game – is a haunting examination of these elements, while the fifteen stories, as well as the playscript, probe the inner demons of his characters, many of whom could function as stand-ins for the author himself. Meditative, surprising, playful and provocative, A Ballet of Lepers is vivid in its detail, unsparing in its gaze, and reveals the great artist and visceral genius like never before.
Published 11th October 2022 – Order Now.