Stay and Fight (Hardcover)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374268121, 304pp.
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
A wildly original, piercingly timely addition to the story of the American family
Helen arrives in Appalachian Ohio full of love and her boyfriend’s ideas for living off the land. Too soon, with winter coming, he calls it quits. Helped by Rudy—her government-questioning, wisdom-spouting, seasonal-affective-disordered boss—and a neighbor couple, Helen makes it to spring. Those neighbors, Karen and Lily, are awaiting the arrival of their first child, a boy, which means their time at the Women’s Land Trust must end.
So Helen invites the new family to throw in with her—they’ll split the work and the food, build a house, and make a life that sustains them, if barely, for years. Then young Perley decides he wants to go to school. And Rudy sets up a fruit-tree nursery on the pipeline easement edging their land. The outside world is brought clamoring into their makeshift family.
Set in a region known for its independent spirit, Stay and Fight shakes up what it means to be a family, to live well, to make peace with nature and make deals with the system. It is a protest novel that challenges our notions of effective action. It is a family novel that refuses to limit the term. And it is a marvel of storytelling that both breaks with tradition and celebrates it. Best of all, it is full of flawed, cantankerous, flesh-and-blood characters who remind us that conflict isn't the end of love, but the real beginning.
Absorbingly spun, perfectly voiced, and disruptively political, Madeline ffitch's Stay and Fight forces us to reimagine an Appalachia—and an America—we think we know. And it takes us, laughing and fighting, into a new understanding of what it means to love and to be free.
About the Author
Praise For Stay and Fight: A Novel…
An Indie Next Selection for July 2019
"The story is told in the alternating voices of Helen, Karen, Lily, and Perley, and Ffitch navigates their personalities beautifully, creating complex, brilliantly realized characters. As the stakes rise, for both the family and the preservation of the region, the novel skewers stereotypes and offers only a messy, real depiction of people who fully embody the imperative of the novel’s title. This is a stellar novel."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Madeline ffitch's powerful debut beautifully illustrates how the bonds forged during hardship can become the rope that saves you."
"A motley, makeshift family . . . must figure out how to preserve the things they love . . . and determine what's worth fighting against and for."
—Nylon, "One of 35 Great Books to Read This Summer"
"Rendered, through its multiple first-person perspectives, with wit and nuance . . . A cleareyed, largehearted take on the social protest novel."
“Madeline ffitch is unafraid of a good fight. Her first novel is a rousing celebration of conflict, in particular the conflict that comes with being a family: unspoken tensions, philosophical disagreements, painful words, messy brawls. Stay and Fight makes the powerful argument that fighting within a family is necessary, formative; it’s the practice that prepares us to fight for our families when the time comes. Hers is the fiercest, wisest book about parenting that I’ve read in a very long time.”
—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles
“If Carolyn Chute and Larry Brown and Carson McCullers had a love child, it might be Madeline ffitch’s brutal and brilliant debut novel, Stay and Fight. What a wise, funny, and shining story, born into the world just in time to teach us about friendship, hardship, self-reliance, and black rat snakes.”
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River
“Madeline ffitch is one of the few real writers on the planet. And Stay and Fight is a real novel. ffitch has the real, funny, not funny, gorgeous, breathing world in her hands. She is giving it to you to hold for a while.”
—Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine and Treat Us Like Dogs and We Will Become Wolves
“Mythic and particular, domestic and political, modest and ambitious, strange and familiar, Stay and Fight is a radical and ferocious success. The book disturbs the legacy of a frontier literature, and it points the way to a fresh conception of the Great American Novel.”
—Chris Bachelder, author of The Throwback Special
“In her debut novel, Madeline ffitch renders a loving and lawless portrait of a remarkable Appalachian family and the conventions that bind them with undeniable wit and brilliance. Fans of Joy Williams and Nell Zink will find a familiar, but ffitch brings her own compass to these woods and clears new ground while she’s out there. An enthralling debut.”
—Amelia Gray, author of Isadora
“Madeline ffitch’s debut offering brilliantly tackles tensions among three women from diverse backgrounds and their son, struggling for freedom, self-sufficiency, and coexistence with nature, whose habitat they share in the very backwater of southeast Ohio. These endearing but sometimes quirky characters are portrayed with so much brutal tenderness, humor, honesty, and wisdom. Complex emotions and an intersectional worldview expressed in sparse prose that echoes the lyricism of the Appalachian hills.”
—Zakes Mda, author of Ways of Dying