Jean Harfenist Recommends

“I regularly give away copies of Weeds by Edith Summers Kelley,” Harfenist says. “It’s an old book (first published in 1923) about the daughter of a tobacco tenant farmer in 1920s Kentucky and it’s the unblinking, outspoken story of a superior young woman trapped by her body and her culture. With the emotional accuracy of Sister Carrie‘and without a sniff of sentimentality or self-pity’ it triggers something so strong that readers either love it or hate it. And that’s the sign of a book worth reading.”

Jean Harfenist’s novel-in-stories, A Brief History of the Flood, received wide critical acclaim when it appeared in 2002. Michiko Kakutani called it “wonderfully wry-melancholy,” and declared it “an auspicious and stirring debut.” Harfenist is a native of Minnesota, a graduate of New York University, and now lives in Santa Barbara with her husband.