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The Doloriad

9780374605094 fc
Paperback, MCD × FSGO, 2022

Missouri Williams

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Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by i-D, Cosmopolitan, and Lit Hub

Macabre, provocative, depraved, and unforgettable, The Doloriad marks the debut of Missouri Williams, a terrifyingly original new voice

In the wake of a mysterious environmental cataclysm that has wiped out the rest of humankind, the Matriarch, her brother, and the family descended from their incest cling to existence on the edges of a deserted city. The Matriarch, ruling with fear and force, dreams of starting humanity over again, though her children are not so certain. Together the family scavenges supplies and attempts to cultivate the poisoned earth. For entertainment, they watch old VHS tapes of a TV show in which a problem-solving medieval saint faces down a sequence of logical and ethical dilemmas. But one day the Matriarch dreams of another group of survivors and sends away one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering. When Dolores returns the next day, her reappearance triggers the breakdown of the Matriarch’s fragile order, and the control she wields over their sprawling family begins to weaken.

Told in extraordinary, intricate prose that moves with a life of its own, and at times striking with the power of physical force, Missouri Williams’s debut novel is a blazingly original document of depravity and salvation. Gothic and strange, moving and disquieting, and often hilarious, The Doloriad stares down, with narrowed eyes, humanity’s unbreakable commitment to life.

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  • "Bizarre and strangely beautiful . . . Williams’s lyrical, visceral prose brilliantly sustains her nightmarish vision . . . bold and demented."

    Publishers Weekly
  • "Not since Katherine Dunn's Geek Love have I encountered a family dynamic that's as disturbingly gonzo and mesmerizing as the one portrayed in The Doloriad. Set against an ethereally ravaged post-apocalyptic landscape, this is a novel that yet very viscerally reveals how primal jealousy and cruelty distort not only who we are but who we may become for generations. Missouri Williams is a formidably talented writer, whose dark prognostications are both thrilling and frightening to behold."

    Mary South, author of You Will Never Be Forgotten

  • "[A] grim and strange, but utterly unique, literary and gothic debut . . . This is a gripping look at humanity’s treatment of women and questions whether human survival at all costs is worth it.”


  • "Unlike anything I've ever read. The Doloriad is—somehow—Old Testament origin story, Shakespearean family feud, Greek epic, philosophical parable, and absurdist sitcom, all in one. Horrible and riveting, I could not look away."

    Jac Jemc, author of The Grip of It and False Bingo

  • "A brilliant, unsettling, gothic take on a Greek tragedy."