News from Heaven: Book summary and reviews of News from Heaven by Jennifer Haigh

News from Heaven

The Bakerton Stories

By Jennifer Haigh

News from Heaven
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Haigh's narratives are beautifully realized stories of heartbreak, of qualified love and of economic as well as personal depression." - Kirkus

"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

"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

"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

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane S.
News from Heaven
These are blue collared short stories, the lives of working men and woman, all set in the mining town of Bakerton. It is helpful but not necessary to have read book:Baker Towers|72876, many of the characters are here in these short stories. Stories that span the time frame of the beginning of the mines operations. the dying of the mines and the slow death of a town, which at one time had employed over nine-hundred men. It is the story of those who went away, some successful, others who were not and came back. A nostalgic look at a community long gone, who once lived in company housing and shopped in company stores. A community who married in VFW halls, and helped each other out, a community that knew each others neighbors, which was sometimes good and sometimes not. I loved this grouping of stories, they are real, they have life.

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Author Information

Jennifer Haigh Author Biography

Jennifer Haigh is a novelist and short story writer. Her first book, Mrs. Kimble, won the 2004 PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction. Her second, Baker Towers, was a New York Times bestseller and won the 2006 PEN/L.L. Winship Award for outstanding book by a New England author. Both have been published in nine languages. Other fiction has been published in Granta, Ploughshares, Five Points, Good Housekeeping and other places. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Jennifer Haigh is a graduate of Dickinson College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She now lives in the Boston area but doesn't get out much. She maintains a large, lively circle of imaginary friends.

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