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Albom pens sequel after 15 years, Arts News & Top Stories

American creator Mitch Albom has by no means written a sequel to any of his best-selling books – till now.

In 2003, he revealed his first novel, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by which Eddie, an aged upkeep employee at an amusement park, dies whereas attempting to avoid wasting just a little lady from a falling cart. In heaven, he meets 5 individuals whose lives he had an affect on, or vice versa.

Fifteen years later, Albom returns to this world along with his 10th e-book, The Next Person You Meet In Heaven. This time, he picks up the story of Annie, the lady Eddie saved. Now an grownup, she dies in a hot-air balloon accident the day after her wedding ceremony and meets 5 individuals in heaven too – together with Eddie.

The Detroit-based Albom, 60, says over the phone that of all his books, The Five People You Meet In Heaven is the one which individuals most frequently ask for a sequel to.

“They need to know what occurred to Eddie, what occurred to Annie.

“I don’t do the Harry Potter thing, I don’t get to bring my characters back every few years to see how they’re doing. So it was very pleasurable to reconnect this time with my characters, especially Eddie, who is one of my favourites.” The character Eddie relies on an uncle of his, a gruff World War II veteran.

Death has lengthy been a part of Albom’s books. He turned a publishing phenomenon after writing Tuesdays With Morrie (1997), based mostly on his last visits to his 78-year-old sociology professor Morrie Schwartz, with whom he reconnected when he learnt his outdated mentor was dying from amyotro-phic lateral sclerosis.

But demise has been on his thoughts significantly prior to now few years. He lost his dad and mom to sickness – his mom in 2015 and his father final yr.

In 2015, he and his spouse Janine Sabino introduced home a five-year-old Haitian orphan, Medjerda “Chika” Jeune, from the Have Faith Haiti Orphanage/Mission in Port-au-Prince, which he has operated since 2010.

Chika had a uncommon mind tumour – diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma – which couldn’t be handled in Haiti. Albom and his spouse introduced her to the United States and spent the subsequent two years pursuing therapies for her, however she died in April final yr.

“That was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to go through, losing a child,” says Albom. He is engaged on a e-book in reminiscence of Chika.

He and Ms Sabino have no youngsters of their very own. He considers himself a father to the 47 youngsters of the Haiti orphanage he visits each month.

When it got here to creating the decision to deliver Chika to the US, he says he didn’t suppose twice. “That’s what you do when you love somebody. You don’t hesitate because you know there will be grief, you think only of helping. I thought, she’s my daughter. I had to take care of her.”

With all this loss weighing on his thoughts, Albom started as soon as extra to contemplate the afterlife. “All that wondering about what happened next made me return to the fictional world of heaven.”

He is just not certain who he would meet in heaven – in his model of heaven, one’s encounters are sometimes surprising – however he hopes one in every of his 5 individuals will probably be Prof Schwartz. “I’d like to see him again and be able to talk to him and ask, ‘What do you think of what happened with your story? Did I do a good job?'”

Albom was an award-winning sports activities journalist with the Detroit Free Press earlier than he turned to writing books, promoting greater than 39 million copies worldwide. His works have been tailored for tv motion pictures, together with the Emmy Award-winning Tuesdays With Morrie (1999).

Fame, he says, has not modified his way of life vastly.

“I live in the same house, I drive the same car, I’m married to the same woman. The money has enabled me to do charitable things, though.”

Besides the Haitian orphanage, he has based charities reminiscent of S.A.Y. Detroit, which helps the homeless and people in want within the metropolis.

He additionally launched a drive to rebuild 10 libraries in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban, the Philippines. Half have been constructed up to now and when the 10th is completed, he plans to return to South-east Asia, together with Singapore, which he final visited in 2010 to present a chat on the National Library.

His works are sometimes of an uplifting, motivational bent, though he objects to them being labelled self-help books. “Self-help books are written like a textbook – chapter one, do this, do that – and I don’t do that. I just write stories. If a story can help somebody, that’s great. I don’t think that it deserves a label.”

The impact his books have on individuals can appear miraculous. He recollects how a person approached him throughout a e-book signing in Chicago, grabbed his arm and began to shake and cry.

“Somebody nearby thought he was attacking me and jumped in, and the guy said, ‘No, no, please understand – my wife died last week and the last thing we did was read your book together and it gave her a lot of comfort. Can I just hold on to you for a minute? I feel like if I’m touching you, I’m touching her.’ After a minute, he thanked me and left. I have great readers who take what I write to heart.”

•The Next Person You Meet In Heaven ($30.97) is on the market from main bookstores.

•Listen: Olivia Ho’s interview with Mitch Albom. http://str.sg/on5G

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