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.
From the author's website
This biography was last updated on 12/04/2010.
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An Interview with Jennifer Haigh
Was Baker Towers inspired by your own family history?
Yes and no. The characters themselves are inventions; they don't resemble anybody in my family. But the details about the town itself, what life was like in the postwar years, definitely came from my parents and other relatives. Baker Towers ends in the Vietnam era, right around the time I was born, so I couldn't rely on my own memories of the period I was writing about. By the time I came along, the coal mines were already in decline. The era of the company town was past, and the region was on its way to become something else. But I grew up hearing about how things used to be, and when I set out to write this book I had a wonderful time interviewing family members about what life was like when coal was king.
How did the characters evolve from the time you began imagining them?
The characters really did develop a generation at a time. When I began writing, Rose and Stanley were clearest to me. I had a vivid mental picture of what they looked like -- Rose very dark, southern Italian; Stanley a Slavic type, big and blond -- and I was fascinated by how those two sets of physical traits would combine and manifest in a large ...
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