David Joy is an exciting new voice in Appalachian literature. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he attended Western Carolina University, and there found Ron Rash as a mentor, became enamored with the land and people of the area and settled in. His first book was Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey, and his first novel was Where All Light Tends to Go. It caused quite a stir, with great reviews in the New York Times and elsewhere and became a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Joy’s new novel, The Weight of This World, has already garnered a starred review in Publishers Weekly which concludes, “Lyrical prose, realistic dialogue, and a story that illuminates the humanity of each character make this a standout.” Putnam and Son’s interviewed Joy about this book, and he set the stage this way: “This book is filled with moments of incredible brutality. Some readers won’t be able to take it, and that’s okay. That’s part of what I was trying to do, to play with that idea and to test that threshold . . . There are moments when we’re disgusted by violence and moments when we cheer it on with murderous enthusiasm. I’m interested in where that line lines.” Joy goes on to say, “I’m interested in going to the darkest places imaginable and trying to find something we all recognize in ourselves.” He continues, “Nor do I write books about Appalachia. I write stories about desperation. I write tragedy. I write the type of stories I like to read, stories where any hint of privilege is stripped away so that all we are left with is the bitter humanity of it, stories about lives pinballing between extremes because there is nothing outside of sheer survival. Within those extremes, there is gut-busting laughter and there is heart-wrenching sadness, there is murderous anger and there is lay-down-my-life love. That’s life, and that’s ultimately what I’m trying to capture.” According to the author, the sound track of the two protagonists of this novel, Thad and Aiden, is written and sung by the Drive-By Truckers, and the soundtrack of the main female character, April, is written and sung by Dolly Parton. “ A perfectly executed novel, this is a book that will endure.” – Donald Ray Pollock.
New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017. 259 pages. Hardback with dust jacket