How to pronounce Jennifer Haigh: The h on the end is silent, so pronounced haig
Jennifer Haigh is a novelist and short story writer. She was born in 1968 in Barnesboro, a Western Pennsylvania coal town 85 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Cambria County. She attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 2002.
Her fiction has been published in Granta, Ploughshares, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Good Housekeeping, and many other publications. Haigh lives in Boston.
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.
Her more recent works are The Condition (2008), Faith (2011) and the winner of the 2014 Massachusetts Book Award and the 2014 PEN/New England Award in Fiction: News from Heaven.
This biography was last updated on 01/01/2015.
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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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