Kathleen Hill’s finely wrought novel tells the story of four generations of an Irish-American family that has lived in the same house for almost a century. Grieving the death of her mother and the imminent sale of the house, the narrator sets out to re-create the hidden, intimate lives of those who came before. Through a series of vignettes she conjures a family devastated in each generation by the loss of a child.
The narrator’s project, inspired at the outset by silences that extend backward to the untold story of the Famine, turns into a vast exploration of loss, inheritance, and the nature of memory. In a voice both stark and lyrical, the narrator calls up transformative, often tragic, moments in lives that have shaped her own. Remembering a past she never knew, she hopes to release from its sway the vanishing present.
Who Occupies This House is a strikingly beautiful account of the difficult reckoning with one’s family legacy that every adult faces. Punctuated by photographs and images that bring the narrative into sharp focus, it will draw comparisons to such divergent writers as W.G. Sebald and Kate O’Brien.
|Publisher:||Northwestern University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Kathleen Hill teaches in the M.F.A. Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Her novel Still Waters in Niger (Northwestern, 1999) was named a Notable Book by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and the French translation was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger. It was also nominated for an IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize XXV, and The Pushcart Book of Short Stories.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Because it's only the people we love best who escape our easier inventions, whose inner lives compete with our own." This line exemplifies the insightful quality of "Who Occupies This House" by Kathleen Hill, a novel of family legacy and loss. I much enjoyed how the narrator excavated family history, providing intimate glimpses of conflict and connection among the interlocking generations of women in this Irish-American family. Those who primarily read nonfiction rather than novels will also appreciate this book. At times I found the narrator's method of interrogating her own story distancing, especially at the beginning, but others may find this rhetorical dimension uniquely stimulating and satisfying. The language is both lyrical and probing. "Who Occupies This House" is a novel to savor.
Kathleen Hill's latest novel stays with you months after reading... She weaves stories of generations, Irish immigrants who make their way in America. In elegant, nuanced prose, Hill tells one family's history, narrated through shadows, a family very much of its times, sustained by an abiding love that spans tragedy and joy, haunting and memorable.