Synopses & Reviews
An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive.
Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.
Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death — events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception.
“The Execution of Noa P. Singleton kept me awake long after I had put it down. Halfway through this gripping novel, in which ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’ change positions more than once, I thought I was so clever I might know where this story was headed. But I was proved wrong in a way I never could have imagined. Congratulations to Elizabeth L. Silver for a fantastic first book that will keep readers awake all over the world.” Herman Koch, author of The Dinner
“Silver has written a darkly witty, acerbic jigsaw puzzle of a first novel about legal versus moral culpability…[and] explores convolutions of guilt and innocence beyond the law’s narrow scope with a sharpness and attention to detail that can be unnerving but demands attention.” Kirkus (starred review)
“The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is mortal war between ferocious women, told with a fiery and merciless lyricism so beautiful it hurts.” Katherine Dunn, author of Geek Love
“The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is an intense and gripping novel of betrayal and guilt that forces readers to confront their convictions and the limitations of their capacity for empathy. Elizabeth L. Silver is a gifted new writer, and her novel is certain to be a smash.” Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother
“In The Execution of Noa P. Singleton, Elizabeth Silver puts the human factor front and center, to devastating effect. Guilt and innocence, capital punishment, the living hell of death row, all these get their due, but at the heart of it is us, the ongoing mystery of what lies inside our souls.” Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
“Smart, cool, articulate, funny, and savvy — Noa P. Singleton dares you to put her story down.” Rosamund Lupton, author of Sister
"Elizabeth L. Silver is a writer to watch out for, one of great scope and passion. Here she tackles a bold topic with skill, compassion and verve." Jill Dawson, author of Orange and Whitbred nominated Fred & Edie, The Great Lover, and Lucky Bunny
“In this grippingly off-kilter thriller, a young woman sits on death row after being convicted of murder until a high-powered attorney — the victim’s mother — intervenes, leaving everyone to wonder why.” O, The Oprah Magazine
“[A] searing debut….This devastating read stands less as a polemic against the death penalty than as a heartbreaking brief for the preciousness of life.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Vividly written debut novel....Silver definitely delivers a thought-provoking examination of the criminal-justice system, providing a clear-eyed view of the artificial theatrics that dominate criminal trials and a heartfelt look at both grief and remorse. An intriguing debut from a writer to watch.” Booklist
A beguiling debut novel about the stories we tell ourselves to survive, the scars that never fade and the things we choose to call the truth.
Noa P. Singleton speaks not a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ends with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, a woman who will never know middle age, she sits on death row in a maximum security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the heartbroken mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. She tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison — if Noa will finally reveal what led her to commit her crime.
Noa and Marlene become inextricably linked through the law, shared sentiments of guilt, and irreversible mistakes in an unapologetic tale of love, anguish, and deception that is as unpredictable as it is magnificently original.
About the Author
ELIZABETH L. SILVER grew up in New Orleans and Dallas and currently lives in Los Angeles. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in England, and a JD from Temple University Beasley School of Law. She has taught ESL in Costa Rica, writing and literature at several universities in Philadelphia, and worked as a research attorney for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton is her first novel.