MISS JANE included on the 2017 longlist for the Wellcome Book Prize.
The Wellcome Book Prize is an annual award, open to new works of fiction or non-fiction. To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci fi and history. Read more…
Since his award-winning debut collection of stories, Last Days of the Dog-Men, Brad Watson has been expanding the literary traditions of the South, in work as melancholy, witty, strange, and lovely as any in America.
Now, drawing upon the story of his own great-aunt, Watson explores the life of Miss Jane Chisolm, born in rural, early 20th-century Mississippi with a genital birth defect that would stand in the way of the central “uses” for a woman in that time in place—namely, sex and marriage. From the highly erotic world of nature around her to the hard tactile labor of farm life, from the country doctor who befriends Jane to the boy who loved but was forced to leave her, the world of Miss Jane Chisolm is anything but barren. Free to satisfy only herself, she mesmerizes those around her, exerting an unearthly fascination that lives beyond her still.
The potency and implacable cruelty of nature, as well as its beauty, is a trademark of Watson’s fiction. In Miss Jane, Watson brings to life a hard, unromantic past that is tinged with the sadness of unattainable loves, yet shot through with a transcendent beauty. Jane Chisolm’s irrepressible vitality and generous spirit give her the strength to live her life as she pleases in spite of the limitations that others, and her own body, would place upon her.
MISS JANE included in the 2016 National Book Award longlist for fiction
“Exquisitely written. Miss Jane is an artistic triumph, a novel that will linger inside you as long as your own memories do. Brad Watson’s gifts are immense.”
—Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and Dirty Love
“Brad Watson deserves applause….It was a pleasure to ride the tide of his artful and efficient sentences through this unusual tale.”
—Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States
“Beautifully written, great-hearted … takes its readers beyond the usual levels of a novel’s power and into the sublime.”
—Ron Rash, author of The Cove
“Calmly, quietly, with deceptive simplicity, Brad Watson brings to life a most unusual woman, finding a most unusual grace.”
—Andrea Barrett, author of Archangel
“Miss Jane Chisolm [is] one of the most memorable women in Southern letters, and one of the most memorable, from anywhere, in our time.”
—Dennis Covington, author of Revelation: A Search for Faith in a Violent Religious World
“Both winning and big-hearted in its embrace of and appreciation for what seems to be a disabling difference. One of its great pleasures is its young protagonist’s flowering from loneliness to a new understanding of her place within creation.”
—Jim Shepard, author of The Book of Aron
“Stunning … Watson’s finest and most surprising work to date. A wise and generous treasure.”
—Steve Yarborough, author of The Realm of Last Chances
“A novel of majestic empathy. Readers have Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Gustav Flaubert’s Emma Bovary, Harper Lee’s Scout—to these and other immortal women of literature, we can now add Brad Watson’s divine beacon of love, Miss Jane.”
—Melissa Pritchard, author of Palmerino and A Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, and Write
“With his plaintive, intelligent, spirit-riven portrait of Jane Chisolm,Watson has become our Flaubert. Miss Jane is that beautiful—and profound.”
—Alyson Hagy, author of Boleto