Published in 1932, Light in August is the seventh in the series of William Faulkner's novels set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. The book tells the story of the orphan Joe Christmas, whose mixed black-white heritage condemns him to life as an outsider who is hated by some and pitied by others.
Simon McEachern, the puritanical farmer who rears Joe, frequently whips the boy, and Joe leaves home after savagely beating Simon. Joe then wanders for 15 years, eventually settling in with a white woman devoted to aiding blacks, Joanna Burden. But her evangelism is a reminder to Joe of Simon's; still damaged from his upbringing, Joe murders Joanna. Joe flees but a companion reveals his whereabouts and he is killed and castrated.
With this new novel, Mr. Faulkner has taken a tremendous stride forward. . . . Light in August is a powerful novel, a book which secures Mr. Faulkner's place in the very front rank of American writers of fiction. -- Books of the Century; New York Times review, October 1932