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- Category: Book Buzz
A Stone for Bread by Miriam Herin
"Miriam Herin's novel A Stone for Bread showcases beautifully her immense talent for sweeping storytelling and poetic language. Her absolute fidelity to detail, to historicity, to research—leavened with an imaginative flair nothing short of inspired—mints a narrative as real and harrowing as documentary footage. As the novel wends back and forth in time, chapter by chapter—from pedestrian North Carolina to exotic, enigmatic France, and even into the unthinkable cauldron of a Nazi death camp—Herin builds an uncanny cautionary tale, deftly pairing rectitude with forgiveness, and serving up a cast of truly unforgettable characters. This is a supremely ambitious book from a thoroughly gifted writer."
—Joseph Bathanti, former NC Poet Laureate and author, The Life of the World to Come
"This story is piercing and evocative, imaginative and unsettling, psychologically thrilling. The suspense Herin weaves throughout is palpable. Big questions are explored: does one every really know another human being? How do we distinguish truth from rationalization? But here's the main thing I have to tell you: A Stone for Bread is an irresistible page-turner."
—Judy Goldman, Losing My Sister
"In this epic literary mystery, art is not merely a luxury item for the bourgeoisie. Instead, art is what we turn to when everything else has been lost. Although the backgrounds here are sweeping—the stuff of revolution—it is through the quiet moments of everyday life where Miriam Herin makes her most compelling connections, reminding us that art is for the moments when you've got nothing left—and art is for all of us. I found myself wanting to claim these characters as part of my lineage. With a sharp eye for detail, Herin weaves a riveting and compassionate narrative out of lifelines that, in ways I can't quite explain, have echoed across the decades and become part of my own."
—L.C. Fiore, Green Gospel
In 1963, North Carolina poet Henry Beam published a collection of poems, claiming they had been saved from a Nazi death camp. The controversy over authorship that followed cost Henry his teaching position and forced him into decades of silence. Then, thirty-four years after the book’s publication, Henry breaks his silence and begins telling grad student Rachel Singer about his year in Paris, his entanglement with the fiery right-wing politician Renard Marcotte, his love affair with the shop girl Eugenié, and his unnerving encounter with the enigmatic René, the man who supposedly gave Henry the disputed poems. The novel moves from 1997 North Carolina to post-World War I France, to Paris in the mid-50s and into the horror of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Even while Rachel wonders how much is true, Henry’s story forces her to examine her own life and the secret she has never acknowledged.
Miriam Herin’s first novel Absolution won the 2007 Novello Press Literary Award and was cited by Publishers Weekly as an “impressive” debut. A native of Miami, Florida, she has been a social worker, taught composition and literature at two universities and three colleges, and been on the editorial staffs of Good Housekeeping Magazine and the Winston-Salem Journal. She has also freelanced as a writer, editor, public relations consultant, and producer of films and videos. As a volunteer, she organized and directed an inner-city program for teenaged children of Southeast Asian refugee families. Her second novel A Stone for Bread was a top-ten finalist in the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom Novel Competition. Miriam is the mother of two, grandmother of one, and lives with her husband in Greensboro.