Family Matters

“In our culture,” novelist Jennifer Haigh says, “a woman's appearance has everything to do with how she is perceived and treated, the opportunities that come to her, her career and personal relationships, the way she views herself.” But what, Haigh asks in her newest book, The Condition, if that woman has Turner’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that prevents her body from maturing, trapping her forever in a hellish continuance of preadolescence? Does she have any chance for happiness? And what about the family members around her, who must also feel implicated in her fate?

Haigh’s previous novels, Mrs. Kimble and Baker Towers, won PEN awards, the latter becoming a New York Times best seller. And one of her hallmarks as a writer is her ability to move among multiple perspectives to tell the story of a whole family, not just one character. That skill takes center stage in The Condition. Though it’s the McKotches’ daughter Gwen who bears the burden of Turner’s syndrome, her disease becomes a flashpoint for her relatives, who all have — we find out — their own defects as humans.
Wed., July 15, 8 p.m., 2009

 
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