top of page

Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide


"Night Watch" by Jayne Anne Phillips



• Barbie takes on patriarchy, wins at box office.
• AI shows limitations/potential to address bias, improve health.
• FDA approves first sickle-cell CRISPR treatment.



Phillips grew up in West Virginia near asylum featured in her novel. Author has compared the Civil War fracture to today’s “estrangement of people, the political divide.”


Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.


Mother & daughter’s Civil War era abuse, escape, asylum life.


Carriage ride involving bears


Focus on PTSD among women who were victims of atrocities of the Civil War aftermath.


506 pages or 8.5 listening hours


Silence used as a protective mechanism.


A Civil War story with its focus on the trauma of a poor white family, an evil manipulative rapist/villain, and a talented, kindly Quaker doctor. No asylum patient is described as a formerly enslaved person.


No need to kill a chicken, stalk a deer, or slay a bear. Break out the molasses, you’re making johnnycakes, corn dodgers, and an apple pie balanced with maple (ideally tapped from your own tree) and a hint of mint.


“Staying hid so you could see and not be seen.”


A healing space, like a garden, or a site with Civil War significance.


How are civilians and combatants affected by war, in this novel and today?
Discuss how identity is lost/hidden/assessed in Night Watch. Consider slavery, war, violence, mental illness, race/ethnicity, gender, dress, speech, behavior, physical limitations, family, profession, community/network, political, and moral compass.
How are slavery and enslaved people represented in this novel?
What happens when child and parent reverse roles?
How do lies drive the plotline?
How were healers perceived in this novel and time period compared to today?
What are your thoughts on the psychiatric care and healing techniques described in the novel.
What are the implications of losing your name/identity?
How is this book different from other novels you’ve read set in the same time period?


Tour the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, a National Historic Landmark, in Weston, West Virginia.


See the movie adaptation of 1988 Pulitzer fiction winner Beloved, which tells the story of the abuse and trauma of a formerly enslaved woman, and how she protected her daughter.


Night Watch is the third of Phillip’s trilogy of war novels, preceded by Machine Dreams (1984, Vietnam) and Lark & Termite (2008, Korea).
Other novels: Shelter (1994), MotherKind (2000), Home (2012), Quiet Dell (2013)
Short stories: Fast Lanes (1984), The Secret Country (1982), How Mickey Made It (1981), Black Tickets (1979), Counting (1978), Fast Lanes (1983)
Poetry: Sweethearts (1976)

bottom of page