Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh (Heat and Light) returns with her timely, highly anticipated new novel, Mercy Street. This tense, riveting story follows the disparate lives that intersect at a woman’s clinic, the consuming work and unending dramas of women in crisis inside, and the intensifying anti-abortion protests and threats outside. Shannon Rose Selden, a litigation partner with an active pro bono practice focused on women’s reproductive rights and a member of The Center for Fiction’s Board of Directors, joined Haigh in conversation. Writer, commentator, and feminist activist Jamia Wilson moderated a discussion about Mercy Street, Selden’s work, and the urgent, divisive issue of abortion rights.
By Jennifer Haigh
Published by HarperCollins
For almost a decade, Claudia has counseled patients at Mercy Street, a clinic in the heart of the city. The work is consuming, the unending dramas of women in crisis. For its patients, Mercy Street offers more than health care; for many, it is a second chance.
But outside the clinic, the reality is different. Anonymous threats are frequent. A small, determined group of anti-abortion demonstrators appears each morning at its door. As the protests intensify, fear creeps into Claudia’s days, a humming anxiety she manages with frequent visits to Timmy, an affable pot dealer in the midst of his own existential crisis. At Timmy’s, she encounters a random assortment of customers, including Anthony, a lost soul who spends most of his life online, chatting with the mysterious Excelsior11—the screenname of Victor Prine, an anti-abortion crusader who has set his sights on Mercy Street and is ready to risk it all to protect the unborn.
Mercy Street is a novel for right now, a story of the polarized American present. Jennifer Haigh, “an expert natural storyteller with a keen sense of her characters’ humanity” (New York Times), has written a groundbreaking novel, a fearless examination of one of the most divisive issues of our time.
Jennifer Haigh is the author of the short-story collection News from Heaven and six bestselling and critically acclaimed novels, including Mrs. Kimble, Faith, and Heat and Light, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Her books have won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN New England Award in Fiction, and have been translated widely. She lives in New England. Mercy Street is her seventh novel.
Photo Credit: Joanna Eldredge Morrissey
Shannon Rose Selden
Shannon Rose Selden
Shannon Rose Selden is a litigation partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she leads the firm’s Asset Management Litigation Practice and is a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation and Private Equity groups. Ms. Selden represents hedge fund and private equity clients as plaintiffs and defendants in complex, high-stakes litigation of all kinds, including securities, contract, corporate governance, fiduciary, financing, and debt restructuring disputes. She is recommended by The Legal 500 US, and has been recognized as a Law360 “MVP” for Asset Management, one of the “Top 250 Women in Litigation” and a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation, and one of Crain’s “Notable Women in Law.” Ms. Selden is on the Board of the National Center of Law & Economic Justice, and has an active pro bono practice focused on women’s reproductive rights. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Amherst College, and is a graduate of Yale Law School.
Jamia Wilson is a feminist activist, writer, and speaker. She joined Random House as vice president and executive editor in 2021. As the former director of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York and the former VP of programs at the Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a leading voice on women’s rights issues for over a decade. Her work has appeared in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, the Today Show, CNN, Elle, BBC, Rookie, Refinery 29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and the Washington Post. She is the author of This Book Is Feminist, Young, Gifted, and Black, the introduction and oral history in Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World, Step Into Your Power: 23 Lessons on How to Live Your Best Life, Big Ideas for Young Thinkers, The ABCs of AOC, and the co-author of Roadmap for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Advocacy, and Activism for All. Jamia is passionate about mission-driven organizations and serves on the Omega Institute, Feminist.com and Center for Reproductive Rights boards and the St. Timothy’s School Advisory Council.
Photo Credit: Aubrie Pick