The Changeling (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Badge
The Changeling By Joy Williams Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

Williams uses imagery from myths and fairy tales hence, the title. This book is dense with complex emotions and shows the experience of pain, confusion, and childhood fantasy. The similarity between an alcoholic and a child is especially interesting. 

Pearl, an alcoholic, failing mother, some strange family relatives, and dozens of adopted wild children all live on a family-owned island. Getting to know the strange group that cohabitates together is so weird and deeply interesting that I couldn't put this book down because I just needed to learn more.

We follow Pearl's journey into insanity as she dives deeper into the fantasy and trauma that alcoholism can create. I felt so connected and disturbed by Pearl. 

If you are longing for strong emotions and a writer that knows how to take a simple act or feeling in a book and make it into poetry. Read the book. Joy Williams, in my opinion, is one of the greats. 


— From Mimetic March Staff Picks


With a new introduction by Karen Russell, the 40th anniversary edition of The Changeling is a visionary fairy tale and a work of mythic genius by one of our best writers.

Forty years later, The Changeling is no less haunting and no less visionary than the day it was published, but it has only become clearer that Joy Williams is a virtuosic stylist and a singular thinker—a genius in every sense of the word.            

When we first meet Pearl—young in years but advanced in her drinking—she’s on the lam, sitting at a hotel bar in Florida, throwing back gin and tonics with her infant son cradled in the crook of her arm. But her escape is brief, and the relief she feels at having fled her abusive husband, and the Northeastern island his family calls home, doesn’t last for long. Soon she’s being shepherded back. The island, for Pearl, is a place of madness and pain, and her round-the-clock drinking spurs on the former even if it dulls the latter. And through this lens—Pearl’s fragile consciousness—readers encounter the horror and triumph of both childhood and motherhood in a new light.            

With language that flits between exuberance and elegy, the plainspoken and the poetic, Joy Williams has blended, as Rick Moody writes, “the arresting improbabilities of magic realism, with the surrealism of the folkloric revival . . . and with the modernist foreboding of Under the Volcano,” and created something entirely original and entirely consuming. 

About the Author

Joy Williams is the author of four novels, four previous story collections, and the book of essays Ill Nature. She’s been nominated for the National Book Award, The Pulitzer Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her most recent title is The Visiting Privilege: New & Collected Stories. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Laramie, Wyoming.

Praise For…

The Changeling is not a novel. It is a shimmering postpartum hex, a vision hatched from the egg of a divinely original mind decades ago and now officially a classic. Joy Williams will be read long after we are all covered in ants.

— Claire Vaye Watkins

The Changeling is perverse and singular in the manner of all true enchantment. I have never come across anything quite like it, although its DNA is in almost all contemporary fiction that I love.

— Kelly Link

Joy Williams’ exquisite vision of mothers and monsters leaves me drunk with wonder. Her language is so powerful, her images so lush, my copy is dogeared on nearly every page.
— Samantha Hunt

Within a single sentence, Joy Williams can swerve from absurd profundity to wicked satire and back, all with miraculous economy and control. . . .  A startlingly alive book, even more resonant today.
— Dana Spiotta, Oprah Magazine (Editor's Pick)

An elusive but enchanting work by one of America's greatest authors.
— Kirkus

Williams is a genius . . . The Changeling remains Williams’s fullest plunge into the uncanny and the magical. Give it a try. Let it cast its spell on you.

— Lincoln Michel, BOMB Magazine
Product Details
ISBN: 9781941040898
ISBN-10: 1941040896
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication Date: April 10th, 2018
Pages: 336
Language: English