Cormac McCarthy

04 April 2024
576 pages


In this semi-autobiographical work, a man abandons his life of privilege to live among eccentrics, criminals and the impoverished of Knoxville. Suttree is a humorous, compelling tapestry of life on the edge from Cormac McCarthy, author of The Road and Blood Meridian.

Suttree contains a humour that is Faulknerian in its gentle wryness, and a freakish imaginative flair' – Times Literary Supplement

1951. Cornelius Suttree lives alone, exiled on a disintegrating houseboat on the wrong side of the Tennessee River. As we meet him, Suttree watches the police haul the body of a suicidal man from the water. Amongst the living, the river is home to hermits, sex workers, alcoholics – and a witch.

Conjuring James Joyce's Ulysses, Suttree wanders the river with a detachment and wry humour, encountering a broad cast of humanity as he does – even as dereliction and destitution threaten the last of his remaining dignity.

'Suttree is like a good, long scream in the ear' – New York Times

Praise for Cormac McCarthy:

‘McCarthy worked close to some religious impulse, his books were terrifying and absolute’ – Anne Enright, author of The Green Road and The Wren, The Wren

'His prose takes on an almost biblical quality, hallucinatory in its effect and evangelical in its power' – Stephen King, author of The Shining and the Dark Tower series

'[I]n presenting the darker human impulses in his rich prose, [McCarthy] showed readers the necessity of facing up to existence' – Annie Proulx, author of Brokeback Mountain

Suttree marks McCarthy's closest approach to autobiography and is probably the funniest and most unbearably sad of his books
The book comes at us like a horrifying flood. The language licks, batters, wounds - a poetic, troubled rush of debris . . . Cormac McCarthy has little mercy to spare, for his characters or himself. His text is broken, beautiful and ugly in spots . . . Suttree is like a good, long scream in the ear
A freakish imaginative flair reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor