The Eighth Day
Thornton Wilder’s renowned 1967 National Book Award–winning novel features a foreword by John Updike and an afterword by Tappan Wilder, who draws on unique sources as Wilder’s unpublished letters, handwritten annotations in the margins, and other illuminating documentary material.
In 1962 and 1963, Thornton Wilder spent twenty months in hibernation away from family and friends, in the town of Douglas, Arizona. While there, he launched The Eighth Day, a tale set in a mining town in southern Illinois about two families blasted apart by the apparent murder of one father by the other. The miraculous escape of the accused killer, John Ashley, on the eve of his execution and his flight to freedom triggers a powerful story tracing the fate of his and the victim’s wife and children.
At once a murder mystery and a philosophical story, The Eighth Day is a “suspenseful and deeply moving” (New York Times) work of classic stature that has been hailed as a great American epic.
Praise For The Eighth Day: A Novel…
— Wall Street Journal
“Brilliant and daring...In a major work of the imagination, [Wilder] has raised the ultimate questions and sent them whirling their deep spirals with a wit and intelligence no other American novelist of the moment can match.”
— Christian Science Monitor
“One of the country’s recognized master artists has produced his best and most absorbing novel.”
— New York Times
“Wilder’s prose more than meets the challenge of his theme. It moves with superb smoothness and power. It combines the dramatic vigor and vividness of the playwright (Our Town, Skin of Our Teeth) with the best of prose writing. Many times it rises into majesty.”
— Los Angeles Times
“Thornton Wilder has come up with his finest and most beautiful novel...a work of classic stature....Spacious, eloquent and moving, it assumes a kind of cosmic grandeur....Spanning two continents and several generations, it begins as a murder mystery and goes on to tell a story, at once dramatic and philosophical, about the range of human courage, aspirations, steadfastness, weakness, defeat and victory.”
— New York Post
Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 9780060088910, 512pp.
Publication Date: November 28, 2017
About the Author
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works, exploring the connection between the commonplace and cosmic dimensions of human experience, continue to be read and produced around the world. His Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, as did two of his four full-length dramas, Our Town (1938) and The Skin of Our Teeth (1943). Wilder's The Matchmaker was adapted as the musical Hello, Dolly!. He also enjoyed enormous success with many other forms of the written and spoken word, among them teaching, acting, the opera, and films. (His screenplay for Hitchcock's Shadow of Doubt  remains a classic psycho-thriller to this day.) Wilder's many honors include the Gold Medal for Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the National Book Committee's Medal for Literature.