Tom Hanks to publish first book, Uncommon Type: Some Stories

The Forrest Gump star has turned his hand to short fiction with a collection of 17 tales, all themed around his passion for typewriters

Some first books struggle for attention, but this is unlikely to be the case with Tom Hanks’s debut, Uncommon Type: Some Stories. Due in October, the first collection from the Oscar-winning star of international box-office hits such as Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan and Big will comprise 17 stories.

The theme of the collection will be typewriters, with each tale involving one of these more and more scarce machines. Hanks is known – in addition to his Hollywood celebrity – for his love of typewriters, and all of the tales will in some way involve one of them.

In 2014, Hanks’s passion – “each one stamps into paper a permanent trail of imagination through keys, hammers, cloth and dye – a softer version of chiselling words into stone” – was expressed through the invention of an app, Hanx Writer, that enables the digital generation to produce facsimile typescript. It became bestseller on Apple’s iTunes store.

A book has been in the works since soon after Hanks published a story in the New Yorker – home to many of the world’s most revered authors – in 2014. Alan Bean Plus Four’s account of four friends’ amateur expedition to the moon caught the eye of Alfred A Knopf’s editor-in-chief, Sonny Mehta. “I was struck by both his remarkable voice and command as a writer. I had hoped there might be more stories in the works. Happily, for readers, it turns out there were.”

The publisher said the stories in Uncommon Type will include “a story about an immigrant arriving in New York City after his family and life have been torn apart by his country’s civil war; another about a man who bowls a perfect game (and then another, and another) becoming ESPN’s newest celebrity; another about an eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant on the hunt for something larger in America; and another about the junket life of an actor.”

Hanks began writing the book in 2015. “In the two years of working on the stories,” a statement read, “I made movies in New York, Berlin, Budapest and Atlanta and wrote in all of them. I wrote in hotels during press tours. I wrote on vacation. I wrote on planes, at home, and in the office. When I could actually make a schedule, and keep to it, I wrote in the mornings from 9 to 1.”

The UK edition will be published by William Heinemann simultaneously with Knopf in the US. Foreign-language rights have so far been sold in seven countries, from Brazil to China. The audiobook, naturally, will be read by the author. Hanks is used to the spotlight, but he can surely expect his short fiction to provide more of it.


Lindesay Irvine

The GuardianTramp

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