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Nation & World

Iowa-based novel hits the store shelves

NEW YORK — New York-based novelist Stuart Harris’ debut novel, “The Northeast Quarter,” is available.

The novel tells the story of Ann Hardy, 10 years old at the beginning of the novel, who overcomes 12 years of betrayal, banishment and physical violence to mature into a smart, young, female lawyer who struggles to retain rights to her family’s richest piece of land in Iowa.

The story is the loosely based on gossip overheard by the author as a child between his mother and her cousins about family property in rural Iowa.

The novel is set against the background of life in the town of Winfield, Iowa, from the end of World War I to the Great Depression. When Ann finds allies in her quest for truth and justice, she is asked if she wants “revenge or her land back.” Her decision uncovers her inner strength and perseverance.

Harris said a key message of his tale and for young people today is “never give up.”

“Keep your promises and stand up for what you believe,” Harris said. “I saw a good tale in the exchange of news and family gossip that I overheard as a child and was inspired by the multigenerational sagas of one of my heroines, Edna Ferber.”

Harris also said his other literary heroes are Robert Louis Stevenson for plots pitting family members against one another and Lillian Hellman for riveting plays about conniving characters.

Harris, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, began writing for the theater professionally in 1991 when he was invited by the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York to attend a summer conference. The experience led the California native to move to New York and become a playwright. Several of his plays have been produced Off Broadway and around the country.

“The Northeast Quarter” began as a full-length play developed by the Works in Progress Theatre Lab at Manhattan Theatre Club Studios in New York. However, Harris put playwriting on hold in order to create the story of generations of Iowa farmers in the historical novel.

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