Nancy Burke: Only the Women are Burning



Author Nancy Burke discusses her new novel, “Only the Women are Burning.” Listen to the interview on,,, or the whole radio show on

How often have women fought against their invisibility? How often have they found a way to be seen by a society that rejects them? The 1975 Icelandic women’s strike, lesbian activists storming the BBC in May 1998, and the contemporary #MeToo movement represent an outcry from women who have had enough. But what if the precarious position of women led not to an outcry or protest, but to another more devastating expulsion of energy?

In Nancy Burke’s “Only the Women are Burning” (Apprentice House Press, October 1, 2020) three women are eclipsed by flames in a single morning, one at a commuter train, one at a school, one while walking her dog in the woods. The authorities decide the burning women are members of a cult, but when Cassandra learns her former best friend died in the fiery phenomenon she refuses to accept that explanation. A mom and former anthropologist, Cassandra finds herself wrapped up in the mystery of these fiery deaths, searching for a solution. As she delves into this strange episode in her once safe suburban New Jersey town, she must also face some buried truths of her own.

Part mystery, part science fiction, part suburban domestic novel, Burke’s “Only the Women are Burning” asks important questions about women in contemporary suburban lives. Fans of Margaret Atwood, Naomi Alderman, Meg Wolitzer, and Rebecca Solnit will enjoy this striking novel for both its poetic prose and the biting social commentary within.


NANCY BURKE is author of “From the Abuelas’ Window” (2006), “If I Could Paint the Moon Black” (2014) and her forthcoming novel, “Only the Women are Burning” (Apprentice House Press, 2020). Her short story, “At the Pool” is a finalist in the 2020 J.F. Powers Prize for Short Fiction. Her short fiction “He Briefly Thought of Tadpoles” appeared in Meat for Tea and “The Last Day” appeared in Pilgrim: A Journal of Catholic Experience. She was born and bred in New Jersey, in a large Irish family. Her most joyful undertaking: successfully raising her three daughters. Her passion: writing. More:

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