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In Circling Flight

by Jane Harrington

Brighthorse Books, 2022

978-1-944467-25-8, $12.99

Available to the trade through Ingram Book Group

and to readers through book retailers everywhere

In this contemporary novel set in the southern Appalachians, the lives of two young women—Leda and Shannon—are knit together when one is left alone on a farm after the loss of her partner and the other is displaced by mountaintop removal coal mining. In Circling Flight is the 2020 winner of the Brighthorse Book Award in the Novel.

“Book One: Way Out Farm” finds Leda trying to tease an existence out of her land. Her goats and a rescue dog are among her only contacts until she becomes close to Shannon, a single mother who has fallen on hard times due to environmental destruction of the hollow in which she lives. When Shannon takes to an RV with her children and moves away, Leda begins spending time with Shannon’s troubled Gulf War veteran cousin, but the relationship reawakens the demons of her husband’s struggle with mental illness.


In “Book Two: Sullivan’s Holler,” Shannon has taken up anti-coal activism, joining forces with a woman who she and her children now live with as a family. Shannon’s son misses the hollow, and so she distracts him with stories—woven with magic realism—of their ancestors’ exodus from Ireland during the Great Hunger and the settling of the homeplace. Through these tales of oppression and migration that mirror their own circumstances, they wend their way back to the mountains and those they’ve left behind.


In Circling Flight is as much a story of love and loss of the humankind as it is a treatise to the elemental relationship between people and their land.


In Circling Flight is an unforgettable book, with a narrative voice that will remain in your mind long after you lay the book aside. Once you open its pages, you will not want to put down this poignant tale. Harrington possesses the gifts of a born storyteller and the natural ability to spin an unforgettable yarn.”—Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Anthology of Appalachian Writers Managing Editor and Shepherd University Center for Appalachian Studies Director


“Jane Harrington’s riveting debut novel is ultimately about the sacrosanctity of the Appalachian earth and the indomitable people tithed to it. In prose elegiac, journalistically precise, and thoroughly poetic, Harrington evokes a glorious, pillaged landscape every bit as intricate as her unforgettable characters’ precipitously interwoven lives. Her range as a storyteller is breathtaking, layered with a naturalist’s eyewitness testimony, an activist’s heart, the sonic heft of a hammered dulcimer, and a fabulist’s impressionistic imagination. This is a timely, utterly crucial, and gorgeously rendered novel.”—Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-14) and author of Light at the Seam


“Jane Harrington’s In Circling Flight is a sensitive and soaring portrayal of people and place, connected by love, friendship, and the alchemy of storytelling. Harrington is a masterful novelist who deserves to be noted as one of the premier voices in Appalachian Literature. I would like to put this book into as many hands as possible, and say, 'Look, this is how it’s done!’”—Charles Dodd White, author of A Year Without Months and How Fire Runs


“From the first lonely starstruck moments, the characters will get you. You too have now fallen for the dog. By novel’s end you are folded into the symphony of this very particular journey.”—Evelyn Conlon, Irish author of fiction, most recently the collection Moving About the Place


JANE HARRINGTON teaches at Washington & Lee University and is a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA). Her wordcraft has appeared in a range of publications, including Chautauqua, Anthology of Appalachian Writers, New Square, Feminine Collective, Big Fiction, Irish America, and Mountains Piled Upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene (West Virginia UP 2019). Jane has also authored bestselling books for children and young adults (Scholastic, Lerner). Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been shortlisted or named a finalist for the Dana Award, Sean O’Faolain International Short Story Prize, Fish Publishing Short Story Prize, Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest, Portable Stories Contest, and the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award. She credits the Carlow University MFA program and her mentors on both sides of the Atlantic for their invaluable part in the creation of In Circling Flight.

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