Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Kent Haruf


Copyright © 2004
by Kent Haruf
Alfred A Knopf
How to Buy

Haruf's follow-up to the critically acclaimed and bestselling Plainsong is as lovely and accomplished as its predecessor. ... And while there is much sadness and hardship in this portrait of a community, Haruf's sympathy for his characters, no matter how flawed they are, make this an uncommonly rich novel. — Publishers Weekly

Life is hard in this small rural town, and the problems of abuse, addiction, neglect, divorce, and loneliness are as pervasive as they are in big cities. Through Haruf's crisp, clean prose, we feel the pain of Holt's citizens as they struggle to survive life with hope and dignity. No easy answers here, just honest storytelling that is compelling and rings true. Highly recommended for all collections. — Library Journal.

Haruf sings the second verse of his moving hymn to life on America's great plains. Eventide is a sequel to the 1999 Plainsong, Haruf's wonderfully straight-talking debut novel. ... Melancholy truths set to gorgeous melody. — Kirkus Reviews

Eventide is the story of families. Families coming together and families falling apart. Haruf pushes open the front doors of thse homes just enough for us to witness the carefully constructed everyday routines and then the inevitable and sudden acts of desperation. ... Haruf's understated voice, his rendering of the simplest, everyday events that paint stroke by stroke enduring portraits of his characters make Eventide a book that is hard to put down. — George Wright, Lincoln Journal Star

Copyright © 2000
by Kent Haruf
How to Buy

A heartstrong story of family and romance, tribulation and tenacity, set on the High Plains east of Denver. In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl — her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house — is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they've ever known.
From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together — their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.
Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from. — from the jacket

Kent Haruf's new novel Plainsong is nothing short of a revelation. I don't expect to read a better novel this year. Or next, for that matter. — Richard Russo

I read Plainsong in one sitting, unwilling — unable — to look up until I'd finished. Kent Haruf has given us a pure blessing of a book: a novel of such sheer sweet amplitude, grace and humanity. — Beverly Lowry

Plainsong is the marvelous story of how seven extraordinary members of a tiny prairie community — two dedicated teachers, two young boys wise beyond their years, a pair of wonderfully idiosyncratic rancher brothers and a pregnant high school girl — come together, in the face of great difficulties, to form the most appealing extended family in contemporary fiction. With Plainsong, Kent Haruf has written an American masterwork: a profound, witty, warmhearted and tough-minded account of a place where family and community still come first. Plainsong is the best new novel I've read since Cold Mountain. — Howard Frank Mosher

Plainsong is a beauty, as spare and heartbreaking as an abandoned homestead cabin, always tough but humane, never sentimental. I loved the prose, as bright and hard as the winter sun sparkling off a sandy snowbank, and the characters, scrubbed to their essentials by the extremes of the Great Plains weather. It's a story that draws the reader like a heat mirage. — James Crumley

Haruf's unforgettable tale is both emotionally complex and elemental, following, as it so gracefully does, the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. — Booklist

Everyone is struggling here, and it's their decency, and their determination to care for one another, Haruf suggests, that gets them through. A touching work, as honest and precise as the McPheron brothers themselves. — Kirkus Reviews

With Plainsong, he has conjured up an entire community, and ineluctably immersed the reader in its dramas. He has written a compelling and compassionate novel. — New York Times

Haruf has created a novel redolent of Small Town, USA. It's warm and real without even a hint of the trite. Plainsong is a graceful, elegant and eloquently-told story that will be with me for a long time. —

The Tie That Binds
Copyright © 2000
by Kent Haruf
How to Buy

Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.
In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family — and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit. — from the jacket

This is strong stuff, and marvelous writing. — John Irving

Haruf's first novel is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the essential dignity and tenacity of the human spirit. — Booklist

I liked everything about this book — the characters, the wonderful dialogue, the vernacular, the great humor. About the only objection I have is that I didn't write it. — James Welch

An impressive, expertly crafted work of sensitivity and detail. ... An engrossing saga. ... Powerful. — Los Angeles Times Book Review

[A] fine first novel that dramatically and accurately explores the lives of people who work the land in the stark American Middle West. — The New York Times Book Review

Kent Haruf writes so wonderfully. ... His characters live, and the voice of his narrator reverberates after the last page: humorous, ironic, loving. — The Christian Science Monitor

Haruf's gifts as a writer go beyond choreography. He has caught his prairie people with the skill of Wright Morris, the prairie itself with the sweeping eye of Willa Cather. ... [I]t's nearly impossible to believe this is his first novel. — Rocky Mountain News

Where You Once Belonged
Copyright © 2000
by Kent Haruf
How to Buy

The red Cadillac pulled down Main Street and sat by the tavern for hours, unnoticed. Then Ralph Bird of the Men's Store recognized the driver as Jack Burdette and bolted to the sheriff's office. The prodigal son of Holt, Colorado, had returned — and he was far from welcome.
In Where You Once Belonged, acclaimed novelist Kent Haruf tells of a small-town hero who is dealt an enviable hand — and cheats with all of the cards. In prose as lean and supple as a spring switch, Haruf describes a high school football star who wins the heart of the loveliest girl in the county and the admiration of men twice his age. Fun-loving, independent, Burdette engages in the occasional prank. But when he turns into a man, his high jinks turn into crimes — with unspeakable consequences. Now, eight years later, Burdette has returned to commit his greatest trespass of all. And the people of Holt may not be able to stop him. Deftly plotted, defiantly honest, Where You Once Belonged sings the song of a wounded prairie community in a narrative with the earmarks of a modern American classic. — from the jacket

Haruf captures small-town people with a sharp humor and sympathy worthy of Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology . Not a word is wasted in his brooding drama, which conceals a tender love story in its bruised heart. — Publishers Weekly

an effective second novel from the author of The Tie That Binds. Recommended. — Library Journal

Taut and deadly. ... A terse and beautifully wrought narration. — Los Angeles Times

A beautifully told parable — simple and stark and true. — Newsday

Where You Once Belonged speaks with the authenticity of ... Hemingway and Faulkner. Denver Post

Haruf's brooding, pondering style translates into first-class writing. — Rocky Mountain News

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