WASHINGTON, DC — — Booker T. Washington has a very long way to go in his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Washington, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Washington Post, said Wednesday that he is “finally” on track to finish his book, “America’s Last King: A Story of the United States.”
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said, adding that he has been doing “great things with my body.”
The 81-year-old author, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and his wife, Rosemary, have been battling the disease for the last five years.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” he added.
He said his diagnosis was “a big relief” to the couple, who were forced to sell their Washington, D.C. home in May.
I think it was an important time in my life to do something that was really about my country and the things that it stood for, he said.
The couple’s first book, an epic tale of a young woman’s quest for vengeance, was published in 1984.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Wednesday, Washington said he has made a “devastating” and “very personal” decision to retire from his publishing career, and will no longer work on his memoirs.
“[I]t’s a really good time for me to do this,” he told the Post.
His cancer has not returned to full strength yet.
Washington said that, as of last week, he was not able to do any writing, but would “probably” be able to write some memoirs, such as a book of essays, if it came along.
But he said he did not know how long it would take for the disease to return to full force.
After reading a book from Washington in the 1980s, he learned that the author, who was diagnosed with pancreatitis and other pancreatic cancers in 1994, had been a writer of fiction.
When he read a book about a young girl whose father was a Confederate general, Washington read about her and was inspired to write a novel about a man who died in the Civil War.
As he got older, Washington’s body started to slow down, he told NPR.
And as he got more frail, he began to feel that there was no other way he could keep writing.
He said he finally decided to get in touch with his doctors and “weirdly” began researching his illness.
To date, he has written four novels, including his latest, “The Last King,” which is set in the American Revolution.