Born and raised in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania, Jennifer Haigh is a graduate of Dickinson College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
When her first novel, Mrs. Kimble was released, the Washington Post raved, "It's a clever premise, backed up by three remarkably well-limned Mrs. Kimbles, each of whom comes tantalizingly alive thanks to the author's considerable gift for conjuring up a character with the tiniest of details." Her debut went on to win the PEN/Hemingway Award for outstanding first fiction, and comparisons to John Updike and Annie Proulx established her as a writer to watch. Now, with the release of Baker Towers, Haigh proves her talent once again with a story that recreates an era in America's industrial past, and the lives of the people who lived it.
Haigh's short stories have appeared in Good Housekeeping, the Hartford Courant, Alaska Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. She lives on Boston's South Shore.
Author biography courtesy of William Morrow * Company, Inc.
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In our interview with Haigh, she shared some fun facts about herself:
"All my life I've fantasized about being invisible. I love the idea of watching people when they don't know they're being observed. Novelists get to do that all the time!"
"When I was a child, I told my mother I wanted to grow up to be a genie, a gas station attendant, or a writer. I hope I made the right choice."
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In the spring of 2003, Jennifer Haigh took some time out to answer our questions.
What was the book that most influenced your life -- and why?
Light Years by James Salter. Probably the most honest book ever written about men and women -- sad, gorgeous, unflinching.
What are some of your all-time favorite books -- and why?The collected stories of William Trevor and the collected stories of John Cheever. Both of these writers have created short stories as full and compelling as complete novels -- stories that distill the meaning of an entire life into a few pages.
Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron. The quintessential family saga, stunning in its psychological insight, the loneliness of its prose.
Charming Billy by Alice McDermott. Another great family story -- it's tender without being maudlin, heartbreaking without resorting to theatrics. A quiet jewel of a book.
Anything danceable. Afro-Cuban is a current favorite.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading, and why?
The Family Markowitz, by Allegra Goodman. Anybody who belongs to a family will laugh out loud at this book. It's witty, perceptive, touching, and wise.
What are your favorite books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
Cookbooks! I keep a stack of them by my bed. They're wonderful bedtime reading.
Who are your favorite writers, and what makes their writing special?
James Salter and Vladimir Nabokov. For a writer, reading them is like taking vitamins.
What are you working on now?
A new novel set in the 1950s. Like Mrs. Kimble it is an intimate novel, a book about the ways people behave when they think no one is looking.
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