A Prayer for the Dying

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April 23, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

In this deeply unsettling and sophisticated horror story, narrator Jacob Hansen survives the Civil War to become pastor, sheriff, and undertaker in rural Friendship, Wis. One sweltering summer day, a tramp dies of diphtheria in the town. The fatal fever quickly spreads, infecting dozens — including Hansen’s wife and baby — and he must decide whether to impose a quarantine even as wildfire threatens Friendship. O’Nan transforms this seemingly conventional tale about a good man struggling against terrible circumstances into a brilliant exploration of evil and solipsism. A small, gruesome literary gem. A-

A Prayer for the Dying

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A Prayer for the Dying

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