Stephen Henighan
   
 

 Stephen Henighan is the author of three novels, including The Streets of Winter (2004), and three short story collections, including A Grave in the Air (2007). He has more than 45 publications in magazines and anthologies worldwide, and writes an influential column on culture for Geist. His journalism has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Times Literary Supplement, and more. He has been a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, the Canada Prize in the Humanities, a McNally Robinson Fiction Prize, a National Magazine Award, and a Western Magazine Award. Henighan teaches Spanish-American literature at the University of Guelph.

Books


 

NOVEL

216 pages/trade paper

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REVIEWS

ISBN: 978-1-77187-123-5
List Price: $19.95

Stephen Henighan

In 1997, Guatemala is emerging from thirty-six years of civil war. Amparo Ajuix, a determined young woman who lives in a Mayan village with her husband, runs a savings club for the local women with the help of an American NGO. Eager to take advantage of Guatemala’s new democracy to strengthen the culture of the Mayan people, she campaigns to switch the language of instruction in the village’s primary school from Spanish to the local language of Cakchiquel.

But Amparo’s life is wracked with tensions. Dona María, an older woman who influences the market where Amparo sells her handicrafts, is jealous of Amparo’s savings club. Amparo’s best friend, Raquel, is a born-again Protestant who disdains Amparo’s devout Catholicism. Yolanda, Amparo’s pretty seventeen-year-old sister, flirts with foreign men in the nearby tourist town of Antigua. Most seriously of all, Amparo’s husband, Eusebio, suspects that he is not the father of her second child, with whom she is pregnant. The erosion of complicity between them poisons their marriage.

In 2003, Amparo works as a teacher in a language school for tourists in Antigua. She is tasked with the special case of a man, whom she calls Ricardo, who wishes to study her native Cakchiquel Mayan language. The experience of teaching this man confronts her with the in-between nature of her own culture. She does not speak Cakchiquel perfectly, as her parents do, yet as a Native person she cannot be completely accepted into Spanish-speaking Guatemalan society, and her Catholicism is mixed with beliefs in traditional Mayan gods. Her crisis about what to preserve and what to discard from her culture is accentuated when her son, Pablito, an enigmatic boy whom she struggles to understand, falls ill.

 

"I think it is extremely hard to write on Mayas by any non-Maya author, not only because of the language, but because of the cosmovision that informs their thinking. Stephen Henighan’s did however an excellent job of dealing with Kaqchikel, and a better job than all non-Maya Guatemalan novelists, with the possible exception of Mario Payeras, in crafting the Maya belief system."

— Dr. Arturo Arias, Prof. of Central American Latin & Mesoamerican Indigenous Cultural Studies, UC Merced

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NOVEL

302 pages / trade paper

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ISBN: 978-1-894345-76-7
List Price: $19.95

Stephen Henighan

 

The Streets of Winter is a fast-paced, intricately crafted novel of life in the city. The characters find in Montreal the anonymity they crave, bartering their identities for the chance to reinvent themselves: Marcel, a young entrepreneur torn between duty and desire, and his wife Maryse, who is blinded to life by her search for art; André, an intellectual retreating from political engagement into a quest for sensual pleasure; Adriana, whose family cannot understand her need to flee them; Teddy, spoiled, angry and idealistic; João, a solitary immigrant pursued by a secret shame which holds him apart from Vitória, who needs him to escape a culture that has trapped her; and Rollie, a homeless teenager who founds a personal empire in the basement of a dilapidated apartment building.

Scrupulously plotted, rich in cultural detail and alive with Montreal’s many voices and accents, The Streets of Winter is an absorbing novel about life in modern urban Canada.

“[Henighan’s] knowledge and depth of feeling for the region and the people are demonstrated on every page.”
— Ottawa Citizen

  Reviews

Brett, Melanie. “More Than Local.” Times Literary Supplement. 11 June 2004.
Clement, Carla Elm. “Reviews.” SubTerrain # 40. Fall 2004.
Czajkowski, Derek. “Real Fiction. Writing the Real Canada.” Echo (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.). 10-16 June 2004. Reprinted in Viewmag (Hamilton, Ont.). 1-7 July 2004.
Golfman, Noreen. “Letters in Canada 2004.” University of Toronto Quarterly. Vol. 75 No. 1 (Winter 2006).
Manners, Steven. “Fiction Reviews.” Quill & Quire. June 2004.
McGillis, Ian. “Portrait of a Fractured Metropolis.” The Gazette (Montreal). 27 March 2004.
Solie, Karen. “The Many Solitudes of Montreal.” The Globe and Mail. 12 June 2004.
White, Erinn. “Characters in Professor’s Novel Might Be Familiar to Readers.” Guelph Mercury. 3 July 2004.

Wigston, Nancy. “Fresh Starts and Dead Ends.” Books in Canada. September 2004.

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NOVEL

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228 pages / trade paper

REVIEWS

ISBN: 978-1-897235-29-4
List Price: $18.95

Stephen Henighan


Sweeping from Nazi Germany in 1939 to the war in Bosnia in the 1990s, Stephen Henighan’s A Grave in the Air is a masterful sequence of stories. In these tales, dominated by Central and Eastern European themes, readers are transported across borders and into the lives of characters who have something serious at stake, people enmeshed in acts of destruction, and people redeemed through honour and grace. These narratives bear Henighan’s cosmopolitan stamp, but they do not take place in a sanitized global village. There are no stereotypes on which to hang a plot, no filtered sense of the human condition. There are stories of betrayal, luminous studies of introspection and character, and ironic stories of historical displacement.

Whether moving readers to reflection or providing engaging entertainment, Henighan’s prose is sharp and clean. Once again, he is as instructive in his understanding of peoples and cultures as he is instinctive in taking us inside the worlds that shape them.

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short fiction

128 pages / trade paper

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ISBN: 978-0-920633-97-7
List Price: $14.00

Stephen Henighan

 At a time when North American writers prefer to probe the depths of individual angst and uncertainty, Henighan has unabashedly chosen to tell stories that tackle sociopolitical issues.


“They are refreshingly political, especially when they reflect the ideological contradictions of North American do-gooders in Nicaragua.”
Montreal Gazette.

 Reviews

Addison, Catherine. “Southern Dreaming.” Canadian Literature . No. 141 (Summer 1994): 146-9.
Heighton, Steve. “Hybrid vigor: a survey of six first collections of stories.” Quarry . 42.3 (January 1994): 85-96.
Kulak, Lorne. “Thistledown Fiction.” NeWest Review (June/July 1993): 32-3.
Patrick, Susan. Canadian Book Review Annual (1993): 189
Robertson, Bill. “Patience rewarded for reader of Montreal poet's short stories.” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix . May 8, 1993. D5.
Summers, Merna. “Others in our lives.” Books in Canada (March 1993): 44-5.
Ternar, Yeshim. “Latin America explored in readable stories.” Montreal Gazette . November 21, 1992.

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NOVEL

183 pages / trade paper

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World Rights Available

ISBN: 978-1-895449-77-8
List Price: $10.95

Stephen Henighan

 

The Places Where Names Vanish explores the frightening, encoded, and potentially explosive realities of Quebec and Montreal as seen by Ecuadorean expatriates. Marta longs for escape from her impoverished village, where she is pulled between traditionalism, spiritualism, Catholicism, and a dirty, brutal reality. She gives herself to a soldier stationed nearby who dreams of North America and a career in music. They leave and Marta learns the refugee's signposts: Escape, Exile, Endurance. The Places Where Names Vanish is a wonderfully evocative, subtle and heartfelt novel, which concentrates on one brave human spirit, but raises more questions than any sociological expose.

Ages 13+

Reviews

“Book Briefs,” Ottawa Citizen, November 8, 1998
Besner, Neil. “Letters in Canada 1998: English Fiction,” University of Toronto Quarterly, (Fall 1999-Winter 2000)
Fagan, Cary. “Olé for the ‘sin of self-love,’” Montreal Gazette, June 6, 1998
Keller, Betty. “New books examine dark side of the Canadian dream,” Coast Independent, September 7, 1998
Peters, Joanne.“The Places Where Names Vanish,” Canadian Materials, Vol. V No. 4, October 16, 1998
Rengger, Patrick, “Humane novel is missing its heart,” The Globe and Mail, June 27, 1998

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