A GRAVE IN THE AIR

Short Stories

— Saskatoon: Thistledown Press, 2007.


The eight stories in Stephen Henighan’s new collection, A Grave in the Air, ask what it is to be an outsider...Immigrants,  refugees, foreign correspondents and others struggle to maintain their identities where the structures which once defined them have altered or disappeared....
The title story brings all these themes skilfully together when Latifa, a young Bosnian Muslim living in Germany, learns her family history from Darryl, a Canadian ex-journalist who would rather forget the former Yugoslavia....The happiness of both depends on their shared journey into memory, however difficult, and on accepting the terrible past.
This is the most poignant of Henighan’s themes: the importance of human action in the face of a terrible political and historical impotence (despite what the reader already knows to be the truth).  He is not shy of the twentieth century’s big subjects, and he puts them to effective use. “The Killing Past,” which opens the book, and the title story, which closes it, are especially successful at bringing out the strange tension of tales whose outcomes are already known to us through history.... We ourselves are never foreign to these tales of foreignness.

— Times Literary Supplement

A Grave in the Air is the product of a serious, unflinching moral imagination. These stories are often uncomfortable reading, but they are important reading, the work of a writer who looks hard at the complexities and rebarbative elements of the multicultural, globalized world we live in.

— Canadian Literature 

The eight stories that comprise Stephen Henighan’s new collection of short fiction, most of them set in Central Europe, deftly capture the isolation and disconnectedness of the outsider ...These stories resonate with intelligence, thoughtfulness and perceptiveness.

— Quill & Quire

The narrative voices are wide-ranging, from a Polish chambermaid’s ruminations about the cultural cost of exile to a Hungarian immigrant’s alienation from the Anglo elite of Montreal.... These are meaty stories, packed with significant public events.....a wide-angle view, crisply rendered.

— The Globe and Mail

Henighan’s strong narrative prose moves...forward with rhythm and purpose....Intriguing.

— Geist

A Grave in the Air

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