Novelist to speak at library

NASHUA – Novelist Jennifer Haigh will speak about her book “Heat and Light” at the Nashua Public Library at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Heat and Light” is the 2017 selection for the Nashua Reads: One City, One Book program.

“We started (Nashua Reads) in 2003. Every year we ask everyone in the city to read the same book, so they can talk about it with their friends and coworkers and neighbors,” Carol Luers Eyman, the library outreach coordinator said.

The book selection is announced in June, and after a few months set aside for reading, the library and The Friends of the Nashua Public Library (a separate, nonprofit group) host occasional related events throughout the fall, culminating with the author visit.

A committee from FOL is in charge of the book selection, with a few criteria including an author who would be able to speak in Nashua and a subject matter that “has to be meaty enough to provoke a discussion,” Eyman said.

The book “Heat and Light” is set in the fictional town of Bakerton, Pa., a down-on-its-luck former mining town.

“Natural gas companies descend on the town, eager to offer residents big money in return for drilling rights to their land. But some of those who sign on get more than they bargained for when fracking disrupts the natural environment – and personal relationships – in the close-knit community,” according to a press release.

Fracking, Eyman said, is one of those “meaty” topics that starts discussions.

“It’s something people have opinions about, and they want to express those opinions. It motivates them to get involved,” she said, adding that fiction is often a “painless” way of learning about a complicated topic that could otherwise be quite dry.

Aside from tackling big topics, Eyman said she personally enjoyed the book, because of the “really excellent” writing, and noted that Haigh “gets into the characters’ minds well and weaves (their stories) together.”

“Haigh is the critically acclaimed author of five novels (“Heat and Light,” “Faith,” “The Condition,” “Baker Towers,” and “Mrs. Kimble“) and a collection of short stories (“News From Heaven“). Her work has won numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, the PEN/L.L. Winship Award, the PEN/New England Award in Fiction, and the Massachusetts Book Award,” the release said.

She will be interviewed on stage by Lisa Allen, a former member of the Friends of the Library, and the conversation will be followed with a question-and-answer session.

“I think when people are reading the book, if they know they can meet the author and ask questions, they can take ownership of the story,” Eyman said.

The other related events this fall included a visit from New Hampshire author Rebecca Rule to lead discussions about the book, listening to a podcast about fracking and Thursday night, Scott Lawrence from Hillsborough County area renewable energy initiative led an information session and discussion about about residential solar power.

“Attendees always tell us that their understanding of the book is increased enormously by the opportunity to hear from the author in person. After talking about the book in their book groups or at library programs, readers become curious about the author’s intentions in her writing, and this event gives them a chance to get those questions answered,” Eyman said.

Tickets for the event are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Advance tickets are available at mktix.com/npl and at the front desk at the library.

Toadstool Bookshop in Milford will sell copies of Haigh’s books for signing at the event.

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or hlaclaire@nashuatelegraph.com