Jennifer Haigh - "Mercy Street" - Emily D. Crews

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh will discuss Mercy Street. She will be joined in conversation by Emily D. Crews.

Presented in partnership with the Martin Marty Center

This event will be held in person at The Seminary Co-op. At this time, masks are required for in-store events.


About the book: 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 for his beliefs.

About the author: Jennifer Haigh is the author of six novels and a collection of short stories. Her most recent novel, Mercy Street, draws on her experience volunteering in a clinic that performed abortions. Earlier novels include Faith, which centers on a Catholic priest accused of child sexual abuse, and Heat and Light, 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, the PEN New England Award in Fiction and a literature award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and have been translated into eighteen languages. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. She teaches in the graduate program in creative writing at Boston University.

About the interlocutor: Emily D. Crews is the Assistant Director of the Martin Marty Center for the Public Understanding of Religion. A 2021 graduate of the UChicago Divinity School, her work explores the complex relationship between religious identities and ideologies and the female reproductive body. She is currently at work on a manuscript about the history of religion and abortion in the United States.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637