Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of Faith
and The Condition
returns with a collection of unforgettable short stories inspired by a Pennsylvania coal-mining town and the people who call it home.
When her iconic novel Baker Towers was published in 2005, it was hailed as a modern classic — "compassionate and powerful...a song of praise for a too-little-praised part of America, for the working families whose toils and constancy have done so much to make the country great" (Chicago Tribune). Its young author, Jennifer Haigh, was "an expert natural storyteller with an acute sense of her characters' humanity" (New York Times).
Now, in this collection of interconnected short stories, Jennifer Haigh returns to the vividly imagined world of Bakerton, Pennsylvania, a coal-mining town rocked by decades of painful transition. From its heyday during two world wars through its slow decline, Bakerton is a town that refuses to give up gracefully, binding — sometimes cruelly — succeeding generations to the place that made them. A young woman glimpses a world both strange and familiar when she becomes a live-in maid for a Jewish family in New York City. A long-absent brother makes a sudden and tragic homecoming. A solitary middle-aged woman tastes unexpected love when a young man returns to town. With a revolving cast of characters — many familiar to fans of Baker Towers — these stories explore how our roots, the families and places in which we are raised, shape the people we eventually become.
News from Heaven looks unflinchingly at the conflicting human desires for escape and for connection, and explores the enduring hold of home.
“The characters in Jennifer Haigh's News from Heaven are so vividly drawn, the inner lives revealed so deftly, with such intelligence and sympathy, that fictional Bakerton, Pennsylvania, takes on the additional weight of, say, Winesburg, Ohio.” Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls
“Jennifer Haigh has accomplished what James Joyce did in Dubliners and Sherwood Anderson in Winesburg, Ohio: render a place with such exactitude the landscape, character, and fate are inextricably linked. One of Americas finest novelists, Haigh is now one of our finest short story writers as well.” bestselling author Ron Rash
“Jennifer Haigh's stories rove across time and cultures as easily as they render the tendernesses and longings and hardscrabble deprivations of home. News from Heaven is well-named, given that its unsentimental compassion and observational acuity...is just what we need right now.” Jim Shepard, author of Like You'd Understand, Anyway
“This collection of short stories shows depth, understanding and compassion....Haigh's narratives are beautifully realized stories of heartbreak, of qualified love, and of economic as well as personal depression.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Haigh has a gift for creating believable characters of all kinds and placing them into realistic — often heartbreaking — situations. A must read for fans of Baker Towers and a good addition to all short-story collections." Booklist
“An uplifting and radiant book.” Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Elegant stories....Haigh uses well-timed plot twists to infuse them with bright new energy.” People (starred review)
“A vibrant, thought-provoking, profoundly readable contribution to the genre....Each of these ten linked stories represents a distinct, shining example of Haigh's remarkable gifts for lyricism, psychological insight, and stealth humor.” Boston Globe
In News from Heaven
, Jennifer Haigh — bestselling author of Faith
and The Condition
— returns to the territory of her acclaimed novel Baker Towers
with a collection of short stories set in and around the fictionalized coal-mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania.
Exploring themes of restlessness, regret, redemption and acceptance, Jennifer Haigh depicts men and women of different generations shaped by dreams and haunted by disappointments.
Janet Maslin of the New York Times has called Haigh's Bakerton stories "utterly, entrancingly alive on the page," comparable to Richard Russo's Empire Falls.
About the Author
Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short story collection News From Heaven and four critically acclaimed novels: Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble. Her books have won both the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction and the PEN/L.L. Winship Award for work by a New England writer. Her short fiction has been published widely, in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories 2012, and many other publications. She lives in the Boston area.