A few months ago, Hidden City Philadelphia editor Nathaniel Popkin wrote a beautiful piece called Begin the Begin wherein he mused on the cultural parallels between the rites of spring and the blossoming of Philadelphia’s creative economy. So as we begin what is shaping up to be a very exciting spring, it’s our great pleasure to announce that The Head & The Hand Press has recently signed a contract to publish Mr. Popkin’s third book, Lion and Leopard, in the fall of 2013.
While Nathaniel Popkin’s first two books, Song of the City and The Possible City, were works of literary non-fiction, his third is a novel of historical fiction about the romantic movement that shook the foundations of the American art establishment. The tremors extend as far as the illustrious family of Charles Willson Peale, a live wire patriarch in no mood to step aside for the new school of artists and thinkers swimming in his wake in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Philadelphia.
The multi-pronged narrative of Lion and Leopard spirals outward from the demise of John Lewis Krimmel, an immigrant German painter whose life was cut short before he could explore the full breadth and width of his potential as an artist and visionary. His works formed a bridge between romanticism’s wonder and the neoclassical realism of portraitists like Charles Willson Peale and his formidable progeny, eccentrically (and perhaps cruelly) named after European masters.
After years immersed in the drama of these clashes between father and son(s), peers and rivals, lovers and mentors, Nathaniel has emerged with a brilliant manuscript that illuminates for the reader what life was like during a time when, as one character memorably puts it, American culture was in its infancy:
Respect, and therefore enduring power, will have to wait until there was such a thing as American culture. Name an empire whose power hasn’t emanated from the richness and intricacy of its culture. Ottoman? Persian? Roman? What is the power of the Ottoman Empire? Is it the ferocious sultans? No! It is the quiet agony of the manuscripts, the fables of love and longing and the coloring of the illuminations. Without all that, the sultans would have no followers and without followers no mercenaries and no army!
Much like the feeling we experienced after going public with our partnership with Adrian Bonenberger, we are thrilled and humbled to have added such a talent to our author roster. Nathaniel Popkin has made his mark as a writer who combines a strong journalistic voice with defined literary grace, and we can’t wait to work with him as he delves into narrative fiction with Lion and Leopard.
Both Nathaniel and Adrian will be sharing their insights on the road toward publication “from the workbench” soon.
To learn more about Nathaniel Popkin, please visit www.theheadandthehand.com/nathaniel-popkin.
-Nic and Linda