In the small town of Holt, Tom Guthrie, a high school teacher, fights to keep his life together and to raise his two boys after their depressed mother first retreats into her bedroom, and then moves away to her sister's house. The boys, not yet adolescents, struggle to make sense of adult behavior and their mother's apparent abandonment. A pregnant teenage girl, kicked out by her mother and rejected by the father of her child, searches for a secure place in the world. And far out in the country, two elderly bachelor brothers work the family farm as they have their entire lives, all but isolated from life beyond their own community.
From these separate strands emerges a vision of life--and of the community and landscape that bind them together--that is both luminous and enduring. Plainsong is a story of the abandonment, grief, and stoicism that bring these people together, and it is a story of the kindness, hope, and dignity that redeem their lives. Utterly true to the rhythms and patterns of life, Plainsong is an American classic: a novel to care about, believe in, and learn from.
Kent Haruf grew up on the high plains of northeastern Colorado, the son of a Methodist minister. He received a B.A. from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1973. He has worked at a wide variety of jobs, including spending two years with the Peace Corps in Turkey; since 1991 he has taught fiction and fiction writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Haruf is alsothe author of The Tie That Binds (1984), the recipient of a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation, and Where You Once Belonged (1990). His short fiction has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Grand Street, Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review, and The Best American Short Stories. Haruf lives with his wife, Cathy, in Colorado and Illinois. Plainsong, his third novel, was a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award.