By Jennifer Haigh
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060755799, 416pp.)
Publication Date: July 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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In the summer of 1976, during their annual retreat on Cape Cod, the McKotch family came apart. Now, twenty years after daughter Gwen was diagnosed with Turner's syndrome—a rare genetic condition that keeps her trapped forever in the body of a child—eminent scientist Frank McKotch is divorced from his pedigreed wife, Paulette. Eldest son Billy, a successful cardiologist, lives a life built on secrets and compromise. His brother Scott awakened from a pot-addled adolescence to a soul-killing job and a regrettable marriage. And Gwen—bright and accomplished but hermetic and emotionally aloof—spurns all social interaction until, well into her thirties, she falls in love for the first time. With compassion and almost painful astuteness, The Condition explores the power of family mythologies—the self-delusions, denials, and inescapable truths that forever bind fathers and mothers and siblings.
Jennifer Haigh is the author of four critically acclaimed novels, Faith; The Condition; Baker Towers, winner of the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for Fiction, and Mrs. Kimble, for which she won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her short fiction has been published widely, including in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories 2012, and other publications. She lives in the Boston area.
- Discuss the significance of the book's title. What else might it refer to other than Gwen's Turner's syndrome?
“[Haigh] looks unflinchingly at family ties—the kind that limit and the kind that can actually liberate. The Condition is a satisfying feat of literary choreography.”
-Wall Street Journal
“THE CONDITION is something rare. . . . Ms. Haigh has a great gift for telling interwoven family stories and doing justice to all the different perspectives they present. . . . A remarkable accomplishment.”
-Janet Maslin, New York Times Book Review
“Haigh’s characters are layered and authentic. Moreover, one would have to have a heart of stone not to care for them and follow their small sagas. . . . Haigh is such a gifted chronicler of the human condition.”
-Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post Book World
“Jennifer Haigh illuminates the dark tangle of desire and deed that is the family, that crucible we so often yearn to flee yet keep coming back to again and again. THE CONDITION is unsentimental, compelling, and moving, and I urge you to read it!”
-Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist House of Sand and Fog
“The ailment at the center of this remarkable novel is the human condition itself. Jennifer Haigh has written a sprawling, emotionally gripping account of one family’s troubled history, enlivened by her formidable intelligence and deep insight into her characters’ hearts and minds.”
-Tom Perrotta, New York Times bestselling author of Little Children and Election
“[A] rich, enjoyable third novel. . . . Haigh sets many balls in motion . . . [and] the McKotch clan evolves believably, and satisfyingly.”
-People (People Pick)
“Poignant. . . . A strong nod to the healing power of love.”
“Filled with genuine insight and touching lyricism.”