Katherine Seligman, winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, joined us in conversation on her lauded new book At the Edge of the Haight. Last awarded in 2016, the PEN/Bellwether prize returns to celebrate Seligman’s debut novel, a story that delves into the culture and community of the homeless in a rapidly changing, tech-driven San Francisco.
She was joined by author and founder of the PEN/Bellwether prize Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle), who established the biennial prize to award works of fiction that address issues pertinent to social justice efforts and expound on the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.
At the Edge of the Haight
By Katherine Seligman
Published by Algonquin Books
Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She knows whom to trust, where to eat, when to move locations, and how to take care of her dog. It’s the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys’ parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw. As adults pressure her to give up her secrets and reunite with her own family before she meets a similar fate, Maddy must decide whether she wants to stay lost or be found. Against the backdrop of a radically changing San Francisco, a city which embraces a booming tech economy while struggling to maintain its culture of tolerance, At the Edge of the Haight follows the lives of those who depend on makeshift homes and communities.