Book-In-Focus: Barker House by David Moloney
" HERE is a voice to listen to! Moloney's voice is as true as a voice can be. Concise, with the right details rendered perfectly, these sentences come to the reader with marvelous straight forwardness, clean as a bone." —Elizabeth Strout
About the Book
David Moloney's Barker House follows the story of nine unforgettable New Hampshire correctional officers over the course of one year on the job. While veteran guards get by on what they consider survival strategies--including sadistic power-mongering and obsessive voyeurism--two rookies, including the only female officer on her shift, develop their own tactics for facing “the system.” Tracking their subtly intertwined lives, Barker House reveals the precarious world of the jailers, coming to a head when the unexpected death of one in their ranks brings them together.
Timely and universal, this masterfully crafted debut adds a new layer to discussions of America's criminal justice system, and introduces a brilliant young literary talent.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ David Moloney's Barker House aims its razor-sharp gaze at the machinery of mass incarceration--and the men and women at its controls. Moloney's frank and humanizing depiction is lush with regret, longing, cruelty, and hope, resulting in a novel as unflinching as it is unforgettable. A brutal and beautiful portrait of lives shaped--and warped--by a toxic system”
—Robin Wasserman, author of GIRLS ON FIRE
“ Propulsive, brilliantly funny, and both generous and precise in its descriptions of rough-around-the-edges correctional officers employed at a for-profit prison.”
“ Welcome to America, where the neglect of human beings has become a celebrated business model. Barker House is a novel as important as Ted Conover's groundbreaking nonfictional Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing when it comes to this country's increasing inequities of class and mass incarceration. David Moloney is compassionate and authoritative and hugely moving in his portraits of those left behind by the heartless for-profit systems we set into motion and then ignore. ” —Jim Shepard, author of THE WORLD TO COME
“ A 'slaughterhouse,' writes David Moloney in his striking debut novel, Barker House, describing the decaying state of America's jails, the depths of that hell, and the lonely lot of jailers who are as trapped in their lives as the prisoners. Moloney's unflinching portrait of correction officers shows us the impossibility of a job that lords power, leads to self-destructiveness, and only in rare moments, allows room for compassion. Moloney's spare prose and painful tales grab the reader by the throat and won't let go.” —Jean Trounstine, activist and author of BOY WITH A KNIFE
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David Moloney worked in the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections, NH, from 2007 to 2011. He received a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he now teaches, and an MFA from Southern New Hampshire's Mountainview low-residency program, where he won the Lynn Safford Memorial Prize. He lives in Massachusetts.