The Mercy Seat (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The Mercy Seat tells the haunting story of a sweltering summer weekend in a small Louisiana township, where a young man awaits execution in his jail cell and a traveling electric chair wends its way down the highway toward him. Short, exquisitely-drawn chapters describe the impact of this harrowing event on various members of the community. In her sparse, perfectly crafted prose, Winthrop conveys a powerful sense of place permeated with the dreams, tensions, disappointments, and secrets of the imperfect characters it contains. 

— From Gillian


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. Moving from voice to voice, Winthrop elegantly brings to stark light the story of a town and its injustices. The Mercy Seat is an intricately layered and incisive novel from one of our most acute literary observers.

About the Author

Elizabeth H. Winthrop is the author of three novels: Fireworks, December, and, The Why of Things She was the recipient of the Schaeffer Writing Fellowship at the University of California at Irvine where she earned her MFA. She lives with her husband and daughter in Massachusetts, where she is Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing at Endicott College.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780802129611
ISBN-10: 0802129617
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: April 16th, 2019
Pages: 272
Language: English