History of an Executioner


JANUARY 2020. ISBN 978-1-881163-66-4
$20.00 SPD | Bookshop | Amazon | Pathway

For years the executioner has faithfully performed his duties in a provincial corner of the Republic, enduring the disdain of his fellow citizens. After an uproar over a botched execution in the distant capital, his work is suspended, and he begins disrupting the routines that have defined his life. When rebels attack the town, he must decide whether to resume his old ways.

Reviews & Such

“[History of an Executioner] renders a sensitive, touching portrait of life in limbo that resonates powerfully with those of us sheltering in place from a fraught and threatening world.” –Jeff Gilliand, The Atticus Review, June 1, 2020

Book Q&A with Deborah Kalb, April 13, 2020

“Clancy McGilligan’s History of an Executioner is a dystopian tale particularly relevant to these strange times.” –Sidney Thomas, The Arkansas International, April 7, 2020

“[History of an Executioner] brings us to the verge of existentialism, the point where the protagonist must decide for himself at last, realizing that he actually does have a choice.” –Andrew Farkas, Another Chicago Magazine, March 28, 2020

Brandon Teigland interviewed Clancy McGilligan for The Adroit Journal, February, 2020

Aram Mrjoian interviewed Clancy McGilligan for Southern Review of Books, February, 2020

History of an Executioner tells a big story in a small number of pages, and takes a new approach to the well-loved dystopian genre.” –Erica Chamberlain Heavy Feather ReviewJanuary 10, 2020

History of an Executioner is a triumph of empathy, imagination, and lucidity. A haunting examination of a humble, civil-servant killer whose lonely existence has arrived at a crossroads. Is he the last of his kind? Would he even know how to be his own man? Could there be any escape from this life of blood and gloom? This first book by Clancy McGilligan truly swept me away—a stunning debut from a spectacularly talented writer.”
—Skip Horack, author of The Other Joseph, The Eden Hunter, and The Southern Cross

In powerful prose, McGilligan tells a fully inventive and engaging story. You’ll want to linger with the sentences and turn the pages. This is a haunting and hauntingly atmospheric novella. –Olivia Clare, author of Disasters in the First World: Stories

With his first novella, History of an Executioner, Clancy McGilligan has written a dystopian tale with flawless control, compression, and, in the end, compassion. The story is, by turns, hopeless and hopeful, passionless and passionate, and always, always, interesting. I could not put it down. –Richard Wiley, author of Soldiers in Hiding

History of an Executioner takes a thoughtful look at the moments that disrupt normalcy. The familiar rhythms of the protagonist’s life are replaced with questions about nation, love, and purpose. Clancy McGilligan creates an executioner who grapples with layers of aftermath and the ways these confine and liberate. This imaginative debut examines the meaning of consequence, showing how both subtle and dramatic changes create new challenges and pathways. –Ravi Howard, author of Driving the King and Like Trees, Walking

About the Author

Clancy McGilligan grew up in Milwaukee and has worked as a journalist in the U.S. and abroad. His writing has appeared in publications such as Slice Magazine, Sycamore Review, Columbia Journal, Santa Monica Review, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor and Film International.

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