Praise for The Mercy Seat
"It 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, the prose itself is the soul and the thing that makes a topic new..."
"The lives of these characters mesh in the events surrounding the execution, and their points of view cycle through short chapters that build tension as midnight draws near. Winthrop’s carefully structured novel is a nuanced, absorbing, atmospheric examination of how racism tears at the whole of society."
"A remarkable work with a stunning unexpected conclusion, not to be missed."
"I recommend [The Mercy Seat] for the moral weight of its narrative and the calm, yet insistent drive of her prose. Evocative of To Kill a Mockingbird, the book narrates events leading up to the quasi-public execution of an 18-year-old accused rapist in 1943 Louisiana. It’s based on a couple of horrible true stories. And it resonates."
"A staggering multivoiced novel set during WWII… Winthrop’s survey of these divergent lives compounds their individual pain into a withering critique of a cancerous society. This potent novel about prejudice and the constraints of challenging the status quo will move and captivate readers."
"Remarkable…This is a novel filled with cruelty and dread, baying mobs and ugly terminology. However, Winthrop tempers the gloom and the hate with gestures of kindness, instances of resolve and redemption and unexpected outcomes. As her characters embark on their own journeys, physical and emotional, they surprise and move us…Winthrop’s brilliantly orchestrated voices, evocative detail and almost unbearable narrative tension add up to an exceptional reading experience."
Read the full review.
"The Mercy Seat may prompt some readers to research the historical precedents inspiring the story, but in this case, the novel may be even greater than the sum of its parts, as Winthrop uses historical details to craft a narrative of immense emotional impact and relevance to today’s world."