Butcher

By Joyce Carol Oates

From one of our most accomplished storytellers, an extraordinary and arresting novel about a women’s asylum in the nineteenth century, and a terrifying doctor who wants to change the world.

‘Simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious and creative writer going’ GILLIAN FLYNN

In this harrowing story based on authentic historical documents, we follow the career of Dr. Silas Weir, “Father of Gyno-Psychiatry,” as he ascends from professional anonymity to national renown. Humiliated by a procedure gone terribly wrong, Weir is forced to take a position at the New Jersey Asylum for Female Lunatics, where he reigns. There, he is allowed to continue his practice, unchecked for decades, making a name for himself by focusing on women who have been neglected by the state—women he subjects to the most grotesque modes of experimentation. As he begins to establish himself as a pioneer of nineteenth-century surgery, Weir’s ambition is fueled by his obsessive fascination with a young Irish indentured servant named Brigit, who becomes not only Weir’s primary experimental subject, but also the agent of his destruction.

Narrated by Silas Weir’s eldest son, who has repudiated his father’s brutal legacy, Butcher is a unique blend of fiction and fact, a nightmare voyage through the darkest regions of the American psyche conjoined, in its startling conclusion, with unexpected romance. Once again, Joyce Carol Oates has written a spellbinding novel confirming her position as one of our celebrated American visionaries of the imagination.

‘A master storyteller’The Times

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 23 May 2024
Pages: 352
ISBN: 978-0-00-869487-6
Joyce Carol Oates is a novelist, critic, playwright, poet and author of short stories and one of America’s most highly respected literary figures. She has written some of the most enduring fiction of our time, including We Were the Mulvaneys, which was an Oprah Book Club Choice, and Blonde, which was nominated for the National Book Award. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction.

”'[Oates] takes this very real nightmare of [the 'father of gyno-psychiatry’] and knits together a story about a young Irish servant who becomes Weir’s 'subject,” - but also the object of his downfall. Sounds like the perfect American novel, delving deep into the horrors of invention' Lit Hub, 'Most Anticipated Books of 2024'

”'Simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious and creative writer going” - Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

'Delightfully disturbing' iNews -

'A master storyteller' The Times -

'Butcher is vivid and compellingly drawn, its prose scalpel-sharp … Oates remains a master storyteller with her finger on the pulse of humanity' iNews -

Praise for Joyce Carol Oates: -

”'One of the greatest — and most productive — living American writers” - Financial Times

'Oates is a massive literary heavyweight, and many earnestly believe she could knock the other contenders for the title of Great American Novelist - Updike, Roth, Wolfe, Mailer' Guardian -

”'One of the greatest writers of our time” - John Gardner, author of Grendel

‘Oates' precise and inspired writing is close to witchcraft' Jeanne Moreau -

”'[A] notoriously prolific chronicler of America’s cracked, calamitous heart” - Esquire

”'America’s preeminent fiction writer” - The New Yorker

”'Simply the most consistently inventive, brilliant, curious and creative writer going, as far as I’m concerned” - Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

'A master storyteller' The Times -

”'Oates’s imagination is as unique, dystopian and vivid as Lewis Carroll’s” - Rose Tremain, author of Absolutely and Forever