Jennifer Haigh biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh

How to pronounce Jennifer Haigh: The h on the end is silent, so pronounced haig

Jennifer Haigh Biography

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.

Jennifer Haigh's website

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Interview

Jennifer Haigh talks about how she was inspired to write Baker Towers (set in a Pennsylvania coal mining tower after WWII) because of her own family history and the stories told to her by her parents and relatives.

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 family. As far as developing the...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jennifer Haigh at BookBrowse
Heat and Light jacket News from Heaven jacket Faith jacket The Condition jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jennifer Haigh but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Ann Cummins

    Ann Cummins

    A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Arizona writing programs, Ann Cummins is the author of Red Ant House, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and Best Book of the Year. She has had her stories ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Baker Towers

    Try:
    Yellowcake
    by Ann Cummins

  • M. Allen Cunningham

    M. Allen Cunningham

    M. Allen Cunningham's debut novel The Green Age of Asher Witherow, set in nineteenth-century Northern California, was a #1 Book Sense Pick and a finalist for the 2005 Book Sense Book of the Year Award alongside Marilynne... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Baker Towers

    Try:
    The Green Age of Asher Witherow
    by M. Allen Cunningham

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