'In concept, Severance is brilliant. In execution, it’s even better – beautiful, hilarious, horrifying and humane' – Dave Eggers
The human head remains in a state of consciousness for one and a half minutes after decapitation.
In a heightened state of emotion, people speak at a rate of 160 words per minute. Inspired by this, Robert Olen Butler wrote Severance, sixty-two vignettes each exactly 240 words in length, that capture the flow of thoughts that go through a person’s mind after their head has been severed. Here are the imagined ultimate words of famous and invented figures — Medusa, Sir Walter Raleigh, Anne Boleyn, Jayne Mansfield, and a chicken, beheaded for Sunday dinner.
‘Severance is a dazzling tour of history and humanity as told by those who have lost their heads. From the moment of death, we are given sixty-two perfect testaments to the joys of being alive. Robert Olen Butler has once again proven himself to be one of the most profoundly creative voices in fiction today’ – Ann Patchett
‘With Severance, Butler has one-upped himself… he has brought the dead back to life, through the limitless will of his imagination’ – New York Times