The acclaimed novel by the author of The Why of Things tackles “the Deep South during the Gothic worst of Jim Crow times … truly a bravura performance” (Geoffrey Wolff).
“One of the finest writers of her generation, ” and author of three previously acclaimed novels, Elizabeth H. Winthrop delivers a brave new book that will launch her distinguished career anew (Brad Watson).
On the eve of his execution, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones sits in his cell in New Iberia awaiting his end. Across the state, a truck driven by a convict and his keeper carries the executioner’s chair closer. On a nearby highway, Willie’s father Frank lugs a gravestone on the back of his fading, old mule. In his office the DA who prosecuted Willie reckons with his sentencing, while at their gas station at the crossroads outside of town, married couple Ora and Dale grapple with their grief and their secrets.
As various members of the township consider and reflect on what Willie’s execution means, an intricately layered and complex portrait of a Jim Crow era Southern community emerges. Moving from voice to voice, Winthrop elegantly brings to stark light the story of a town, its people, and its injustices. The Mercy Seat is a brutally incisive and tender novel from one of our most acute literary observers.
“Artful and succinctly poetic … A worthy novel that gathers great power as it rolls on propelled by its many voices. ”—The New York Times Book Review
“A miracle of a novel, with rapid-fire sentences that grab you and propel you to the next page … It’s a breakout. It’s a wonder. ”—Dallas Morning News