Dead Ink Books is to publish Missouri Williams’ "brilliant and depraved" debut novel The Doloriad next year, with Farrar Straus & Giroux's MCD imprint publishing in the US.
The novel was acquired from John Ash at PEW Literary. Both the US and UK publication will be in March 2022.
The book explores a dystopian world, stuck in the aftermath of an apocalypse, revolving around a family engendered through incest. The synopsis explains: "In the wake of a mysterious cataclysm that has wiped out the rest of mankind, a brother and sister, and the family descended from their incest, cling to existence on the outskirts of an abandoned city. Although their mother, the Matriarch, dreams of starting humanity all over again, her children are not so certain. Surrounded by the silent forest and the dead suburbs, they feel closer to the ruined world than they do to their parents. The children scavenge supplies, fetch water, collect fuel for power, empty latrines, plant seeds and attempt to cultivate the poisoned earth. For entertainment, they watch tapes of the last remaining TV show, 'Get Aquinas in Here', in which a problem-solving medieval saint fixes logical or ethical dilemmas. Life, inevitably, goes on.
"But one day, the Matriarch has a vision: she dreams of another group of survivors, and sends away one of her innumerable daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering. When Dolores returns a few days later, having dragged herself back through the forest, her reappearance triggers the breakdown of the fragile order that the Matriarch has established, and the control she wields over the sprawling family begins to weaken. As their makeshift society disintegrates, the world of the freewheeling saint, Aquinas, and that of the family begin to fuse."
Williams’ non-fiction writing has appeared in the Baffler, the Believer, Another Gaze and the Independent, and in 2015 she wrote and directed the play "King Lear with Sheep". Commenting on the deal, she said: "‘When writing The Doloriad, I was thinking a lot about Edward O Wilson’s idea of the ‘Eremocene’—the Age of Loneliness. Except for their family, the world that the characters live in is empty. The animals are dead and the earth is poisoned. There’s no past and barely any future either. I’m really happy to be working with Nathan Connolly at Dead Ink and Jackson Howard at MCD/FSG."
Connolly, publisher at Dead Ink, said: "FSG and Dead Ink are both known for inventive and original books that push against boundaries, so I think it fitting that we are teaming up for The Doloriad, a book that is like no other and defies all convention. FSG is the perfect publishing partner for this book and I can't wait to watch everything unfold as we near publication."
FSG publisher Howard added: "I'm thrilled to bring the funhouse of horrors that is The Doloriad to FSG/MCD. This novel is brilliant and depraved in equal measure, an ambitious and harrowing reckoning with humanity and its doomed future. Owing to Missouri Williams' inimitable, reality-twisting, sinfully sharp voice, reading this book is an experience in and of itself, like being consumed by a giant insect and then fighting your way out of its abdomen."