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Stranger Here Below, a new novel by Joyce Hinnefeld, associate professor of English, was released September 28 by Unbridled Books.
Stranger Here Below tells the stories of three generations of women connected through two communities in Kentucky: one is the Shaker site, Pleasant Hill; the other Berea College. At the center of the story is the friendship between two girls—one white, one black—who are roommates at Berea in 1961, a time of upheaval.
The novel was inspired by a 1994 trip to Kentucky. "My husband was interested in photographing Shaker sites and artifacts when we lived in upstate New York, near the Hancock Shaker village," explains Hinnefeld. "The summer we were married, we traveled to Kentucky to check out the Shaker site, Pleasant Hill, and Berea College, which is famous for its crafts. I became intrigued with the idea of bringing together the two places in a novel."
Hinnefeld did extensive research for the book. In 1998, with the support of an FDRC summer stipend, she traveled to Berea and Pleasant Hill, Ky., to glean information from old newspapers, journals, and log books.
More than 10 years in the making, the novel went through several versions and rewrites before taking its final form last summer.
Reviews have been highly positive: "Recommended for its wide appeal to readers seeking thoughtful, well-written fiction" (Library Journal); "I read In Hovering Flight earlier this year and enjoyed it. But Hinnefeld's latest book ... oh, this one is made of awesome" (fizzythoughts.com); " ... a fascinating cast of characters—sisters, visitors, pilgrims, strangers—[she] untangles the mysteries of their lives with her distinctive grace and delicacy. [Hinnefeld] is a remarkable writer who gives her readers pleasures to savor on every page"(Joanna Scott, author).
Joyce Hinnefeld is the Moravian Cohen Chair in English and Literature; Tell Me Everything and Other Stories, her collection of short stories, won the 1997 Breadloaf Writer’s Conference Bakeless Prize. Her first published novel, In Hovering Flight (2008) received wide critical acclaim.