With her debut novel, Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh created a buzz with its especially unlikable male character, manipulative marrying man Ken Kimble. In her latest novel, Baker Towers, Haigh explores community, love and family in a western Pennsylvania town in the years after World War II.
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Date of Birth:
October 16, 1968
Place of Birth:
B.A., Dickinson College, 1990; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop, 2002
James A. Michener Fellowship, 2002; PEN/Hemingway Award for Mrs. Kimble, 2003
Haigh's stunning second novel brings readers into the heart of a western Pennsylvania mining town in the years after World War II. The Baker coal mines offer good union jobs, meat on the table, and paid vacations for the families of Bakerton. Against this backdrop, the five Novak children come of age in a story that is a tribute to a time and place long gone -- to America's industrial past and the men and women who built it.
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|In an interview with her publisher, Haigh discusses the difference between writing short fiction and her first full-length novel: "Short stories are to novels what dating is to a long marriage," Haigh reflects. "A new story is very exciting; there's a wonderful sense of discovery that comes with inventing and exploring new characters. Because a novel takes so long to write, you're still plugging away at it long after the initial glow has faded. Novelists, like spouses, don't get to start from scratch when the novelty wears off. They're living with the choices they made days, months, years before."|
|The Best Book to Read First||Favorite Writers and Reads|
Haigh's ambitious first novel chronicles the exploits of ex-reverend Ken Kimble -- a manipulative, elusive man on a marrying mission -- as he weds three very different women in succession, with disastrous consequences. "This gripping debut novel examines how easily shrewd lies can be mistaken for acts of love," Book magazine observes.
Haigh told us that Alice McDermott's Charming Billy is a favorite novel, calling it a "great family story... tender without being maudlin, heartbreaking without resorting to theatrics. A quiet jewel of a book." Read our interview with Haigh to learn more about her favorite writers and reads, including: