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Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, Ph.D.

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Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Brazos Press
Publish Date: January 24, 2024
Language: English
ISBN-10: –
ISBN-13: 9781587436185

When celebrated American novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor died at the age of 39 in 1964, she left behind an unfinished third novel titled Why Do the Heathen Rage? Scholarly experts uncovered and studied the material, deeming it unpublishable. It stayed that way for 40 years.

Until now.

For the past 10-plus years, award-winning author Jessica Hooten Wilson has explored the 378 pages of typed and handwritten material of the novel–transcribing pages, organizing them into scenes, and compiling everything to provide a glimpse into what O’Connor might have planned to publish.

This book is the result of Hooten Wilson’s work. In it, she introduces O’Connor’s novel to the public for the first time and imagines themes and directions O’Connor’s work might have taken. Including illustrations and an afterword from noted artist Steve Prince (One Fish Studio), the book unveils scenes that are both funny and thought-provoking, ultimately revealing that we have much to learn from what O’Connor left behind.


Jessica Hooten Wilson is the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair of Great Books at Pepperdine University (’23) and previously served as the Seaver College Scholar of Liberal Arts at Pepperdine University (’22-’23). She co-hosts a podcast called The Scandal of Reading: Pursuing Holy Wisdom with Christ & Pop Culture, where she discusses with fellow authors, professors, and theologians with Claude Atcho and Austin Carty. She is the author of Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Work in Progress (Brazos Press, January 23, 2024); Reading for the Love of God: How to Read as a Spiritual Practice (Brazos Press, 2023); Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints (Brazos Press, 2022) which received Christianity Today 2023 Award of Merit (Culture & the Arts) and a Midwest Book Review 2023 Silver Book Award (Nonfiction – Religion/Philosophy); co-author with Dr. Jacob Stratman of Learning the Good Life: Wisdom from the Great Hearts and Minds that Came Before (Zondervan Academic, 2022)Giving the Devil his Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky (February 28, 2017), which received a 2018 Christianity Today Book of the Year Award in the Culture & the Arts; as well as two books on Walker Percy: The Search for Influence: Walker Percy and Fyodor Dostoevsky (Ohio State University Press, 2017) and Reading Walker Percy’s Novels (Louisiana State University Press, 2018); most recently she co-edited Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020).

She has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the Czech Republic, an NEH grant to study Dante in Florence in 2014, and the Biola Center for Christian Thought sabbatical fellowship. In 2018 she received the Emerging Public Intellectual Award given by a coalition of North American think tanks in collaboration with the Centre for Christian Scholarship at Redeemer University College, and in 2019 she received the Hiett Prize in Humanities from The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture.


“What a delight that there’s a new Flannery O’Connor manuscript in the world, courtesy of Jessica Hooten Wilson, who has performed a true labor of love here, for which the literary world will be wildly grateful.”

George Saunders, New York Times bestselling author of Man Booker Prize winner Lincoln in the Bardo