Eleanor Henderson


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Eleanor Henderson

Photograph: Nina Subin



Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and studied in Vermont and Virginia. Her debut novel Ten Thousand Saints (Ecco, 2011) was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by The New York Times and was a finalist for the Award for First Fiction from The Los Angeles Times. In 2015, the movie based on the novel was released by Screen Media Films, starring Ethan Hawke and premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. Eleanor’s stories and essays have appeared in publications including Agni, Ninth Letter, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered, Poets & Writers, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best American Short Stories.

Her second novel, The Twelve-Mile Straight, set in Georgia during the Great Depression, will be published by Ecco on September 12, 2017. 



Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies – one light-skinned, the other dark – are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town.

Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her impulsive father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. It soon becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have imagined. A web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the truth.

Combining the intimacy of a family drama with the grandeur of an American epic, The Twelve-Mile Straight is tender and savage, heart-breaking and hopeful, and deeply human. 

"Eleanor Henderson is in possession of an enormous talent which she has matched up with skill, ambition, and a fierce imagination'. Ann Patchett