Karen Joy Fowler’s epic novel about an ill-fated family of thespians, drinkers and dreamers, whose most infamous son is destined to commit a terrible and violent act.

Junius is the Booth patriarch. A celebrated Shakespearean actor who fled bigamy charges in England, he is both a mesmerising talent and a man of terrifying instability. As his children grow up in a remote farmstead in 1830s rural Baltimore, the country draws ever closer to the boiling point of civil war.

Of the six Booth siblings who survive to adulthood, each has their own dreams they must fight to realise - but it is Johnny who makes the shocking decision that will change the course of history.

Longlisted
The Booker Prize 2022
Published by
Serpent's Tail
Publication date
Karen Joy Fowler

Karen Joy Fowler

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler is the New York Times-bestselling author of three short story collections and seven novels, including The Jane Austen Book Club.
More about Karen Joy Fowler

What shapes us? And who gets to choose the stories we tell about our place in the world? With an eagle eye and a bone-dry wit, Fowler introduces the Booths, a 19th-century family forged by theatrical ambition and agonising grief within a household steeped in the racism and myth-making of the disunited States. As the novel unfolds, we know - and they don’t - that one day the ninth child, John Wilkes, will step forward with a gun in his hand to bring the narratives of dynasty and country decisively together.

— The 2022 judges on Booth

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Other nominated books by Karen Joy Fowler