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The Heaven of Mercury
BRAD WATSON

The Heaven of Mercury by Brad Watson
24 reviews (2002) (352p)
National Book Award Finalist

Visit this book's Amazon.com page >>


Book Description
Shortlisted for the 2002 National Book Award in Fiction: a dark, riotous Southern novel of sex, death, and transformation.

Brad Watson's first novel has been eagerly awaited since his breathtaking, award-winning debut collection of short stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men. Here, he fulfills that literary promise with a humorous and jaundiced eye. Finus Bates has loved Birdie Wells since the day he saw her do a naked cartwheel in the woods in 1916. Later he won her at poker, lost her, then nearly won her again after the mysterious poisoning of her womanizing husband. Does Vish, the old medicine woman down in the ravine, hold the key to Birdie's elusive character? Or does Parnell, the town undertaker, whose unspeakable desires bring lust for life and death together? Or does the secret lie with some other colorful old-timer in Mercury, Mississippi, not such a small town anymore? With "graceful, patient, insightful and hilarious" prose (USA Today), Brad Watson chronicles Finus's steadfast devotion and Mercury's evolution from a sleepy backwater to a small city. With this "tragicomic story of missed opportunities and unjust necessities" (Fred Chappell), "Southern storytelling is alive and well in Watson's capable hands" (Kirkus Reviews starred review). "His work may remind readers of William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, or Flannery O'Connor, but has a power—and a charm—all its own, more pellucid than the first, gentler than the second, and kinder than the third" (Baltimore Sun).

A potent cocktail of Southern gothic and classical mythology, this is a novel only Brad Watson could have written—an unforgettable portrait of the most romantic aspirations and most twisted inclinations of the bleak and lovely human heart. National Book Award finalist, a Booksense 76 Top Ten selection. Reading group guide included.


Amazon.com Review
Brad Watson's The Heaven of Mercury brings fresh, sly humor to the traditionally dark genre of Southern gothic. It's the story of the small town of Mercury, Mississippi, told through the lives of various inhabitants, including a white man, Finus, and his lifelong love, Birdie; and a black girl, Creasie, and her Aunt Vish--slave descendants who see Mercury as the zone of their captivity. All over Mercury, characters dream about moments in the past when they wish they'd had the courage to change the course of their lives. Watson's (Last Days of the Dog-Men) ornate, lush prose will remind readers of Faulkner, but he has a much lighter touch. Mercury is a sad world of violent drunks, unpunished crimes, and unrequited love, but Watson's wry observations work to dispel the gloom (a strict Christian woman wears "a tight brown bun in her hair like an onion God drew forth from her mind"). The Heaven of Mercury is an ambitious work from an important voice in American fiction--a voice with a distinctly Southern accent. --Ellen Williams


Other Award Winning Books by Brad Watson
Miss Jane by Brad Watson
170 reviews (2016) (288p) (Amazon Top100) (NBALong)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson
14 reviews (2010) (268p) (PF)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Brad Watson Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 2  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 2  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 1 The Heaven of Mercury ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 1 Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact