> Skip to content
  • Published: 15 June 2018
  • ISBN: 9780399574245
  • Imprint: Putnam
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $26.99

The Weight Of This World

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut Where All Light Tends to Go was hailed as "a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of southern literature" (The Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina with a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can't leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it.

  • Published: 15 June 2018
  • ISBN: 9780399574245
  • Imprint: Putnam
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • RRP: $26.99

Also by David Joy

See all

Praise for The Weight Of This World

Bleakly beautiful. . . [a] gorgeously written but pitiless novel about a region blessed by nature but reduced to desolation and despair

Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

Darkly stunning Appalachian noir

Huffington Post

Scenes unfold at a furious pace, yet contain such rich description that readers will do well to read slowly, savoring Joy's prose . . . Joy's work perfectly aligns with the author's self-described ‘Appalachian noir’ genre, as a sticky film of desperation and tragedy cloaks everything his characters touch. April, Aiden and Thad are hopelessly conflicted, dripping with history and heartache, yet they cling to unique dreams about what life could look like if they carried a bit less weight of the world upon their shoulders

Associated Press

Joy is a remarkably gifted storyteller. The life he fuels into his characters is so high-test that if they are not lying face down in a pool of blood by novel’s end, they keep rambling through the mind . . . How these characters deal with their demons gives redemption a new dimension

Charlotte Observer

Reeks of authenticity; this world is grisly and bleak . . . [Joy] tells a hell of a story

Shelf Awareness

Joy kicks the doors wide open with The Weight Of This World, a rollicking, methamphetamine fueled drug-deal-gone-bad odyssey through the backwoods and back roads of Western North Carolina. It’s that line between what is right under the eyes of God and what is rightfully your—perhaps—one and only chance for something more . . . [Joy is] one of the bright flames of this next generation of southern noir novelists

Smoky Mountain News

Joy explores the darkness of an area that many people experience only through tourism, where characters ravaged by addiction, domestic violence, and an economy that refuses to rebound scramble to change their lives. It’s a tough, but beautiful and perhaps necessary, read

WNC Magazine

Beautifully destructive . . . There’s a purpose to every sentence and every line of dialogue Joy writes. He’s searching for answers to deeper truths about violence, trauma, and family; it just so happens that his path to answers tends to lead down the barrel of a gun . . . Features one of the best, and most satisfying, endings to a crime fiction novel I’ve ever read


David Joy got our attention in 2015 with his debut Where All Light Tends To Go. The searing rural noir proved there was still a lot to mine from the subgenre. Now Mr. Joy picks up his tools and goes down even deeper into that dark hole with The Weight Of This World . . . Joy takes the blueprint for a crime fiction plot done many times and spins something unique and poignant through his damaged characters


Appalachia provides the evocative setting for this tale of a brutal world filled with violence and drugs . . . Lyrical prose, realistic dialogue, and a story that illuminates the humanity of each character make this a standout

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Joy neither condescends to his characters nor excuses them but simply depicts them amid the crushing poverty and natural beauty of their environment. With prose as lyrical as it is hard-edged, he captures men still pining for childhood and stunned to find themselves as grownups with blood on their hands. Joy is one to watch—and read


Readers of Southern grit lit will enjoy Joy’s excellent sophomore outing, which is both dark and violent. Ron Rash aficionados will appreciate Joy’s strong sense of place in his vivid depiction of rural Appalachia

Library Journal (starred review)

Not a single word is wasted in The Weight of This World, a dark and violent literary page-turner that burns with a white hot intensity rarely found in fiction today. A perfectly executed novel, this is a book that will endure

Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Heavenly Table

David Joy’s The Weight of This World is a tale of exquisite grit. A fearless writer, Joy is willing to go to all the dark places, but his voice and his heart serve as such strong beacons that we’ll follow him and take our chances. Those chances pay off in a story that is as tense and harrowing as it is achingly tender. Don’t miss this book

Megan Abbott, author of You Will Know Me

The Weight of This World is a savage and heartbreaking tragedy. David Joy writes with a deep wisdom, compassion, and respect for the psychic and physical wounds, the pain and anger and sadness that at once shackle his broken characters and hurl them toward choices and outcomes that linger with the reader long after the last page is read. Most impressive, Joy has written about the cost of loyalty based in childhood friendships that no longer exist in the adult world, and how sacrifices made out of the love for another can lead to the ruin of the self

Eric Rickstad, New York Times-bestselling author of Lie in Wait

The Weight of This World is a beautiful nightmare of lives battered by the forces of serendipity and inevitability. Of lives swirling down the drain in a haze of meth, abuse, blood, and, of all things, love

Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times-bestselling author of Where It Hurts

Related titles