20-minute audio interview
Editor’s Note: Kent Haruf passed away November 30, 2014 at age 71 after a long illness. We were saddened by the news.
Nationally bestselling author Kent Haruf’s latest work may be his finest tale yet. Benediction is a quiet and profound statement about endings.(File could take a minute to load)
In this AUDIO interview we learn that he relies on intuition to write his novels rather than “programming,” and he strives for every word to be the right one. It took him a long time to write well enough to become a published author, and it still takes him a long time to complete a novel. He likes to think that in some sense it is the reader who completes the story.
Haruf is “the master of what one of his characters calls ‘the precious ordinary’ . . . With understated language and startling emotional insight, he makes you feel awe at even the most basic of human gestures.” (Esquire)
Kent Haruf photo by Michael Lionstar
In Benediction, when Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. Meanwhile, the town’s newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.
Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, BENEDICTION captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants.
“Grace and restraint are abiding virtues in Haruf’s fiction, and they resume their place of privilege in his new work. . . . For readers looking for the rewards of an intimate, meditative story, it is indeed a blessing.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
BENEDICTION by Kent Haruf was released in January 2014 by Vintage Books, a division of Random House..
About the Author
Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Writers’ Award, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award, the Wallace Stegner Award, and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation; he has also been a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award. He lives with his wife, Cathy, in their native Colorado.