The renowned novelist and critic’s private journals, spanning from his years as a high school student in the Bronx to early adult life in San Francisco.
For fifty years Samuel Delany has cultivated a special relationship with language in works of fiction, criticism, and memoir that have garnered critical praise and legions of fans. The present volume—the first in a series—reveals a new dimension of his genius. In Search of Silence presents over a decade’s worth of Delany’s private journals, commencing in 1957 when he was still a student at the Bronx High School of Science, and ending in 1969 when he was living in San Francisco and on the verge of reconceiving the novel that would become Dhalgren.
In these pages, Delany muses on the writing of the stories that will establish him as a science fiction wunderkind, the early years of his marriage to the poet Marilyn Hacker, performances as a singer-songwriter during the heyday of the American folk revival, travels in Europe, experiences in a New York City commune, and much more—and crosses paths with artists working in many genres, including poets such as Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, and Marie Ponsot, and science fiction writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Moorcock, Roger Zelazny, and Joanna Russ. Delany scholar Kenneth R. James presents the journal entries alongside generous samplings of story outlines, poetry, fragments of novels and essays that have never seen publication, and more; James also provides biographical synopses and an extensive set of endnotes to supply contextual information and connect journal material to Delany’s published work.
“This is a tremendously significant and vital addition to the oeuvre of Samuel Delany; it clarifies questions not only of the writer’s process, but also his development?to see, in his juvenilia, traces that take full form in his novels?is literally breathtaking.” —Matthew Cheney, author of Blood: Stories
“Traversing Delany’s youth, we see a precocious mind grappling with his own talent he lives on two registers, participating in the world and also observing it, living simultaneously as a kid in NYC and, ‘a writer of genius.’ “? Robert Minto, New Republic
“Mesmerizing . . . a true portrait of an artist as a young Black man . . . already visible in these pages are the wit, sensitivity, penetration, playfulness and the incandescent intelligence that will characterize Delany and his extraordinary work.”? Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao