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The Pig's Heart

Erin Flanagan, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This novel, The Pig's Heart, takes place in 1998 during the worse hog depression this country's ever seen, where every hundred hogs brought to market resulted in a loss of six thousand dollars to farmers. Narrated primarily by Augusta Gaither, a fifteen-year-old girl, this novel examines her search for family and acceptance in a time of great betrayal between communities, farmers and corporations, mothers and daughters, and players of the heart. During the trials of the hog depression, Augusta realizes, much like the rest of the Midwest, that family is a nebulous term. It is a unit that can be culled together from those she's closest to, and is not limited to those defined by something as inconsequential as blood. ^ Many writers influenced this novel, particularly Lorrie Moore, Richard Russo, Charles Baxter, Kent Haruf, and Flannery O'Connor. What defines these writers in my mind is their commitment to regionalism, whether they set out with that commitment in mind or not. Richard Russo says, “the more specific and individual things become, the more universal they feel,” a statement I heartily agree with. This novel, I hope, is much more than a book about Iowans, but a book about the way we define and broaden our families and communities, be it through desperation, optimism, pragmatism, or love. ^

Subject Area

Literature, Modern|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Flanagan, Erin, "The Pig's Heart" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3152608.