In the wake of a mysterious environmental cataclysm that has wiped out the rest of humankind, the Matriarch, her brother, and the family descended from their incest cling to existence on the edges of a ruined city. The Matriarch, ruling with fear and force, dreams of starting humanity over. Her children and the children they have with one another aren't so sure.
Surrounded by the silent forest and the dead suburbs, they feel closer to the ruined world than to their parents. Nevertheless, they scavenge supplies, collect fuel, plant seeds, and attempt to cultivate the poisoned earth, brutalizing and caring for one another in equal measure. For entertainment, they watch old VHS tapes of a TV show called Get Aquinas in Here, in which a problem-solving medieval saint faces down a sequence of logical and ethical dilemmas.
But one day the Matriarch dreams of another group of survivors, and sends away one of her daughters, the legless Dolores, as a marriage offering. When Dolores returns a few days later, her reappearance triggers the breakdown of Matriarch's fragile order and the control she wields over their sprawling family begins to weaken. As the children seize their chance to escape, the world of the television saint Aquinas and that of the family begin to melt together with terrible consequences.
Told in extraordinary, intricate prose that moves with a life of its own, at times striking with the power of physical force, Missouri Williams's debut novel is a blazingly original document of depravity and salvation. Gothic and strange, moving and disquieting, and often hilarious, The Doloriad stares down, with narrowed eyes, humanity's unbreakable commitment to life.