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Ellison editors speak of Three Days Before the Shooting challenges

11th February 2010

The editors of Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison's posthumous novel have spoken of the challenges of completing the unfinished work.

John Callahan, the executor of Ellison's literary estate, and Adam Bradley, a professor of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder, were given access to the writer's archive after his death from pancreatic cancer and used the material to finish Three Days Before the Shooting.

In an interview with NPR News, Callahan said that they decided to publish the material as close to how Ellison left it as possible and did their best to compile the most complete and revised sections into a cohesive whole.

'So the editorial work was actually the gathering together and the compilation, the sorting out the various narratives and drafts,' he explained.

Bradley added that the editors took pains to ensure 'every word of fiction in the novel is obviously Ellison's', with the approach of cherry-picking the best completed sections left by the author leading to the novel's 'fragmented' structure.

A Publishers Weekly review of Three Days Before the Shooting praised its 'breathtaking prose' and applauded Callahan and Bradley's 'literary archaeology'.

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