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The Mercy Journals

The Mercy Journals

By Claudia Casper
Categories: Fiction
Paperback : 9781551526331, 256 pages, 2016
Read Excerpt (PDF)


Winner, Philip K. Dick Award for Distinguished Science Fiction

This unsettling novel is set thirty years in the future, in the wake of a third world war. Runaway effects of climate change have triggered the collapse of nation/states and wiped out over a third of the global population. One of the survivors, a former soldier nicknamed Mercy, suffers from PTSD and is haunted by guilt and lingering memories of his family. His pain is eased when he meets a dancer named Ruby, a performer who breathes new life into his carefully constructed existence. But when his long-lost brother Leo arrives with news that Mercy's children have been spotted, the two brothers travel into the wilderness to look for them, only to find that the line between truth and lies is trespassed, challenging Mercy's own moral code about the things that matter amid the wreckage of war and tragedy.

Set against a sparse yet fantastical landscape, The Mercy Journals explores the parameters of personal morality and forgiveness at this watershed moment in humanity's history and evolution.


  • Winner, Philip K. Dick Award 2017


Posing profound questions about compassion, values, and our capacity for life-saving change, Claudia Casper performs a remarkably incisive and sensitive variation on the dystopian theme in this suspenseful and provocative tale of sacrifice and survival. -Booklist

- Booklist

A story of finding beauty and human connections in the wake of destruction. -Prism international

- Prism

The Mercy Journals explores what it means to become fully human and, specifically, the part played by memory in that process. -BC Bookworld

- BC Bookworld

Casper employs an unexpected cast of characters strangely befitting her post-apocalyptic landscape. -The Rumpus

- The Rumpus

The Mercy Journals is a novel of slow revelation, focused on the careful unfolding of a character even as he comes apart, truths glimpsed obliquely in the wreckage where self-serving falsehoods no longer carry any force. -Quill and Quire

- Quill and Quire

This complex tale puts global crises and personal crises hand in hand, and questions if morality can stay the same or must adapt. It interweaves destruction with hope, individualism with socialism, and bouts of mental illness with moments of clarity, all while maintaining a strong plot and protagonist that carry the story forward. -Foreword Reviews

- Foreword Reviews

Not since Margaret Atwood's Snowman in Oryx and Crate have we met such a desperate and compelling hero as Allen Quincy, doing his best to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. With spare, driven prose and sharp humour, Claudia Casper takes us into a chillingly believable landscape where love still clicks in on red high heels and brothers still engage in conflict of biblical proportions. -Merilyn Simonds, author of The Convict Lover

From the opening paragraph, I dove into the deep end of a dystopian world that was terrifying, familiar,and thrilling, and made me keep reading until the shocking end. The novel focuses on family and survival and love and humans' nature; hunger, passion, possession, and murder. It's a masterpiece. -Jamie Lee Curtis

Claudia Casper's The Mercy Journals is a book of extraordinary vision. Part Lord of the Flies, part Romeo Dallaire's Shake Hands with the Devil, I came out of this book deeply touched by the characters who moved through it, but also more alert. There's a sense of the prescient in this novel -- of where we could end up if we're not careful. Great books make you ask questions about what you've learned between their covers and The Mercy Journals does just that. Taut, literary and compelling, this is a book that is, on one level, about a man trying to tell his story when there are no words for it; when the ways in which we tell stories are changing -- though it's also about all of us: a book about humanity, accountability and justice, and where, in a world in peril, we might find forgiveness and hope. -Aislinn Hunter, author of The World Before Us

I admire tremendously how The Mercy Journals takes current concerns -- global warming, PTSD, anti-immigration policies, war -- and weaves them seamlessly into a gripping and mysterious plot set in a future world that, like any excellent sci fi, is really about today. -John Colapinto, staff writer at The New Yorker

Casper employs clear, concise prose that moves at a steady clip, and the exploration, through one man's account, of what it means to outlive one's purpose is tightly constructed. -Publishers Weekly

- Publishers Weekly

Claudia Casper's wry lament for the world is utterly unforgettable. She creates a slow apocalypse and finds real human voices and aching in the collapse and rebirth of society. -Emily Schultz, author of The Blondes

The Mercy Journals takes its place alongside Thomas King's The Back of the Turtle and Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven in the growing tradition of Canadian literature which wonders what will bring on our apocalypse, and what we will do when it comes . .. Casper's novel is a powerful environmentalist manifesto and call to action. -Canadian Literature

Casper has created a complex and unforgettable character in Quincy . .. The Mercy Journals works on two levels: as a cautionary tale and as an examination of one man's struggle to find meaning in life. The two levels work beautifully together.
-Vancouver Sun

- Vancouver Sun