In 1962 and 1963, Thornton Wilder spent twenty months in hibernation, away from family and friends, in the border town of Douglas, Arizona. While there, he launched The Eighth Day, a tale set in a mining town in southern Illinois about two families blasted apart by the apparent murder of one father by the other. The miraculous escape of the accused killer, John Ashley, on the eve of his execution, and his subsequent flight to freedom trigger a powerful story tracing the fates of all those whose lives are forever changed by the tragedy: Ashley himself, his wife and children, and the wife and children of the victim. At once a murder mystery and a philosophical story, The Eighth Day is a “suspenseful and deeply moving” (New York Times) work of classic stature that has been hailed as a great American epic.
This new edition of Thornton Wilder’s renowned 1967 National Book Award-winning novel features a new foreword by John Updike and an afterword by Tappan Wilder, who draws on such unique sources as Wilder’s unpublished letters, handwritten annotations in the margins of the book, and other illuminating documentary material.