Plainsong (Haruf) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—February 24, 1943
Where—Pueblo, Colorado, USA
Died—November 30, 2014
Where—Salida, Colorado
Education—B.A., Nebraska Wesleyan University; M.F.A., Iowa Writers' Workshop
Awards—(see below)

Alan Kent Haruf was an American novelist and author of six novels, all set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

Haruf was born in Pueblo, Colorado, the son of a Methodist minister. He graduated with a BA from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 1965, where he would later teach, and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1973.

Before becoming a writer, Haruf worked in a variety of places, including a chicken farm in Colorado, a construction site in Wyoming, a rehabilitation hospital in Denver, a hospital in Phoenix, a presidential library in Iowa, an alternative high school in Wisconsin, as an English teacher with the Peace Corps in Turkey, and colleges in Nebraska and Illinois.

He lived with his wife, Cathy, in Salida, Colorado until his death in 2014. He had three daughters from his first marriage.

All of Haruf's novels take place in the fictional town of Holt, in eastern Colorado, a town based on Yuma, Colorado, one of Haruf's residences in the early 1980s. His first novel, The Tie That Binds (1984), received a Whiting Award and a special Hemingway Foundation/PEN citation. Where You Once Belonged followed in 1990. A number of his short stories have appeared in literary magazines.

Plainsong was published in 1999 and became a U.S. bestseller. The New York Times' Verlyn Klinkenborg called it "a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader." Plainsong won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and the Maria Thomas Award in Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Eventide, a sequel to Plainsong, was published in 2004. Library Journal described the writing as "honest storytelling that is compelling and rings true." Jonathan Miles saw it as a "repeat performance" and "too goodhearted."

On November 30, 2014, at the age of 71, Kent Haruf died at his home in Salida, Colorado, of interstitial lung disease.

Our Souls at Night, his final work, was published posthumously in 2015 and received wide praise. Ron Charles of the Washington Post called it "a tender, carefully polished work that it seems like a blessing we had no right to expect."

1986 - Whiting Award for fiction
1999 - Finalist for the 1999 National Book Award for Plainsong
2005 - Colorado Book Award for Eventide
2005 - Finalist for the Book Sense Award for Eventide
2009 - Dos Passos Prize for Literature
2012 - Wallace Stegner Award
2014 - Folio Prize shortlist for Benediction
(Author bio adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 8/26/2015.)

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