As a longtime fan of Shelley Jackson, I was incredibly excited to read her new book — and it exceeded even my sizable expectations. Riddance is a wild dream written in extraordinarily precise and stunning prose. A ghost story, an alternative scientific universe, and the story of some thrillingly compelling characters, Riddance is the most original and innovative novel I've read in years. Recommended By Jill O., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Shelley Jackson is a writer of such extraordinary, uncanny power that the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I encounter her work. What an exhilarating, prickling, blistering book Riddance is I made myself read it as slowly as possible in order to stay in as long as I could." — Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble: Stories, finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction
Eleven-year-old Jane Grandison, tormented by her stutter, sits in the back seat of a car, letter in hand inviting her to live and study at the Sybil Joines Vocational School for Ghost Speakers & Hearing-Mouth Children. Founded in 1890 by Headmistress Sybil Joines, the school — at first glance — is a sanctuary for children seeking to cure their speech impediments. Inspired by her haunted and tragic childhood, the Headmistress has other ideas.
Pioneering the field of necrophysics, the Headmistress harnesses the "gift" she and her students possess. Through their stutters, together they have the ability to channel ghostly voices communicating from the land of the dead, a realm the Headmistress herself visits at will. Things change for the school and the Headmistress when a student disappears, attracting attention from parents and police alike.
Set in the overlapping worlds of the living and the dead, Shelley Jackson's Riddance is an illuminated novel told through theoretical writings in necrophysics, the Headmistress's dispatches from the land of the dead, and Jane's evolving life as Joines's new stenographer and central figure in the Vocational School's mysterious present, as well as its future.
"Shelley Jackson is a writer of such extraordinary, uncanny power that the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I encounter her work. What an exhilarating, prickling, blistering book Riddance is! I made myself read it as slowly as possible in order to stay in as long as I could." Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble: Stories
"Wow! Riddance is an extraordinarily inventive, spooky, fascinating, surprising book. On one level a mash-up of Moby-Dick and Jane Eyre; on another, an intricate literary puzzle; and at heart, a poignant investigation of what happens when we try to make the world a better place. It simply amazed me." Allegra Huston, author of Say My Name and Love Child: A Memoir of Family Lost and Found
"This clever, cacophonous novel of metaphysical gothic from Jackson (Half Life) teems with voices of the living and the dead...Full of Carrollian logic and whimsical grotesquerie, the tale...is an illuminating allegory of fiction writing, for 'the necrocosmos is made of language; we precipitate a world with every word we speak.' Joines is a remarkable creation in a wonderful book — an imperious, otherworldly, and damaged figure who, haunted by her childhood, devises and devotes her life to a haunted philosophy." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
Shelley Jackson was born in the Philippines, raised in Berkeley, California, and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, her daughter, and a three-legged dog. She received a B.A. in art from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Brown University. She is the author of the short story collection The Melancholy of Anatomy, the novel Half Life, the hypertext novel Patchwork Girl, several children's books, and "Skin," a story published in tattoos on the skin of more than 2,000 volunteers. She teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School.