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The Mercy Seat

Ranking894inBelletristik
PaperbackPaperback
272 pages
English
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Cover TextAs another baking hot day dawns over Louisiana in 1943, a young black man wakes in a town jail to the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl - a crime some believe he did not commit.
In a tale taut with mounting tension, the day unfolds hour by hour from nine points of view: Willie himself, knowing what really happened and grappling with what it means to die; his father, desperately trying to reach home with a tombstone for his son before it's too late to see him one last time; the lawyer, haunted by being forced to seek the death penalty against his convictions, his wife, who believes Willie to be innocent, and their 12-year-old son, determined to get as close as possible to the action regardless of the dangers; the priest assigned to Willie in jail; the prisoner entrusted with driving the executioner and his travelling electric chair to the place of execution; and the mother whose only son is fighting in the Far East, bent on befriending her black neighbours.
In this exceptionally powerful novel, Elizabeth Winthrop explores matters of justice, racism and the death penalty in a fresh, subtle and profoundly affecting way. Her kaleidoscopic narrative allows us to inhabit the lives of her characters and see them for what they are - complex individuals, making fateful choices we might not condone, but can understand.
Additional textA multi-layered tale of life, death and the grey pain of grief. And yet, it is not depressing . . . though slow burning, [it] still manages to be explosive.
Details
ISBN/GTIN978-1-4736-7252-9
Product TypePaperback
BindingPaperback
FormatB-format paperback
Publishing year2019
Publishing date15/02/2019
Pages272 pages
LanguageEnglish
SizeWidth 130 mm, Height 198 mm, Thickness 17 mm
Weight195 g
Article no.35296676
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Content/Review

PrefaceAn unforgettable novel - a riveting, heart-wrenching story of injustice and racism in 1940s Louisiana that is as powerful and profound as it is timely.
CritiqueIt takes a brave writer to compose a novel about the execution of an African-American man in the Deep South when the topic has previously been brought to life by authors like Harper Lee and Ernest Gaines. There are multiple possibilities for failure: preachiness, melodrama and bias, to name a few. But Elizabeth H. Winthrop avoids these hazards by writing well, demonstrating once again that while the subject matter is the body of the narrative,...more

Author

H. Winthrop, Elizabeth
Elizabeth H. Winthrop was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Harvard University in 2001 with a BA in English and American Literature and Language, and in 2004 she received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the University of California at Irvine. Her stories have appeared in a variety of publications including the Missouri Review and the Indiana Review. Fireworks, her first novel, was published by Sceptre in 2006, her second, December, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for 2009, she pulished her third novel, The Why of Things, in 2013. The Mercy Seat is her most recent work, published by Sceptre. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter and St. Bernard, and is Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing at Endicott College.