A young doctor wrestles with the legacy of a slave “resurrectionist” owned by his South Carolina medical school.
"Dog days and the fresh bodies are arriving once again." So begins the fall term at South Carolina Medical College, where Dr. Jacob Thacker is on probation for Xanax abuse. His interim career—working public relations for the dean—takes an unnerving detour into the past when the bones of African American slaves, over a century old, are unearthed on campus. Out of the college’s dark past, these bones threaten to rise and condemn the present.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Dr. Frederick Augustus Johnston, one of the school’s founders, had purchased a slave for his unusual knife skills. This slave, Nemo ("no man") would become an unacknowledged member of the surgical faculty by day—and by night, a "resurrectionist," responsible for procuring bodies for medical study. An unforgettable character, by turns apparently insouciant, tormented, and brilliant, and seen by some as almost supernatural, Nemo will seize his self-respect in ways no reader can anticipate.
With exceptional storytelling pacing and skill, Matthew Guinn weaves together past and present to relate a Southern Gothic tale of shocking crimes and exquisite revenge, a riveting and satisfying moral parable of the South.
- July 2013
- 5.9 × 8.6 in
/ 304 pages
- Territory Rights: Worldwide
Endorsements & Reviews
“The Resurrectionist is a spectacular novel that seamlessly connects fact and fiction, past and present. Matthew Guinn is a novelist who possesses that rarest and most underrated of literary gifts—how to tell a story in such a way that the reader surrenders completely to its power.” — Ron Rash, author of Serena
“I finished Matthew Guinn’s fine new novel, The Resurrectionist, with a rare sense of excitement. It’s relentlessly compelling, thoughtful, intelligent, and just plain wise. It’s a shame Robert Penn Warren is no longer with us, because this is a book he would love.” — Steve Yarbrough, author of Safe from the Neighbors
“Matthew Guinn has done something truly extraordinary here; he’s written a novel that is not only riveting and beautifully written, but one that dares to step into the long shadow of class and race in this country, a shadow into which Guinn shines a natural-born storyteller’s illuminating light. The Resurrectionist is a stunning debut.” — Andre Dubus III, author of Townie and House of Sand and Fog
“A wonderful debut; entertaining and enjoyable to read. Guinn does a really good job of intertwining present-day medical school politics with those of the schools during the Civil War era. I look forward to reading more of Matthew Guinn’s work!” — Jamie Fiocco, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
“Guinn makes good use of the rough-but fascinating-history of U. S. medical schools. Strong pacing, interesting lead characters, and clever resolutions to both prongs of the story are the hallmarks of this winning debut that shows that in matters of race and American history, navigating to 'truth' and 'right' is almost always a complex journey.” — Library Journal
“Neatly juxtaposing the immense wealth and renown of the contemporary South Carolina Medical School against its avaricious origins, Guinn explores the broader issue of America's avoidance of its complicated and troubled history of slavery and race relations.” — Shelf Awareness
“The best novel I've read in years, and absolutely the best first novel I've ever read, The Resurrectionist is just magnificent, a masterpiece. Surprising, compelling, moving, shocking, and satisfying.” — Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight
“A fine gothic novel…. Be warned: Corpses abound.” — Timothy R. Smith, Washington Post