Ten years later, more from 'The All of It' author
Jeannette Haien was in her 60s when her first novel, The All of It, received glowing reviews (PW called it a "slim, quiet gem") when it was first published in hardcover by David Godine in 1986. The book really took off, however, in paperback, with the HarperCollins edition never out of print and with 47,000 copies sold and counting, thanks to handselling efforts of booksellers like Betsy Burton of The King's English in Salt Lake City, Utah. "It's one of our store's top five consistent performers; we sell between 50 and 100 copies each year," she said.
This fall, Burton finally has a new Haien to handsell -- Matters of Chance, which will hit the shelves Columbus Day weekend. The two books bear little resemblance to each other -- The All of It takes place in Ireland and tells the story of an incestuous sibling relationship; the second novel is about a married American couple separated by World War II, and is nearly three times as long as the first. But the books do share what Burton calls Haien's trademark "musical quality" -- not surprising, since Haien is a professional pianist.
Haien has been writing since she was a teenager. While studying music at the University of Michigan, she published a book of p try that won the university's prestigious Hopwood Prize. She then made her debut as a concert pianist and began touring and teaching while writing short stories that were occasionally published in literary magazines -- activities she's kept up during the 10 years between novels.
Haien plans to tour for Matters and is working on a collection of stories that HarperCollins will publish. In the meantime, the acclaim for The All of It -- also translated into French and Japanese and recently optioned for film -- remains music to her hears. "It is enormously gratifying to me that it has endured," Haien said.