A Prayer for the Dying
By Stewart O'Nan
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312255015, 208pp.)
Publication Date: April 2000
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A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
Set in Friendship, Wisconsin, just after the Civil War, A Prayer for the Dying tells of a horrible epidemic that is suddenly and gruesomely killing the town's residents and setting off a terrifying paranoia. Jacob Hansen, Friendship's sheriff, undertaker, and pastor, is soon overwhelmed by the fear and anguish around him, and his sanity begins to fray. Dark, poetic, and chilling, A Prayer for the Dying examines the effect of madness and violence on the morality of a once-decent man.
Stewart O'Nan's first collection of stories, In the Walled City, won the Drue Heinz Literary Prize. He is the author of four previous novels, Snow Angels, The Names of the Dead, The Speed Queen, and A World Away. He lives in Connecticut.
"A cross between Steven Crane and Stephen King . . . O'Nan is certainly among the
strongest American writers of his generation."--Peter McCarthy, The Washington
Post Book World
"A new masterpiece of American literature."--Dennis Lehane, Entertainment Weekly
"A sad and chilling novel . . . It will make readers shudder and think and marvel at
a writer's creation of an alien world that seems so real."--Bob Minzesheimer, USA
"A fine, terse novel about the circumstantial nature of evil and the terrible
fragility of man."--Patrick McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
"This urgent, economically told novel grabs you at the start and never lets up.
O'Nan's novel is beautiful testimony to profound truths."--Dan Cryer, Newsday
"A Prayer for the Dying reads like the amazing, unrelenting love child of Shirley Jackson and Cormac McCarthy. It's twisted proof that God will do worse to test a faithful man than the devil would ever do to punish a sinner."--Chuck Palahniuk