New Novel from Acclaimed Ithaca College Writing Professor

By David Maley, September 8, 2017

New Novel from Acclaimed Ithaca College Writing Professor

Best-selling author and Ithaca College writing professor Eleanor Henderson is out with her second novel — “The Twelve-Mile Straight” — an epic story about family, race, inequality and heredity set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression, Prohibition and Jim Crow. It is published by Ecco Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Henderson first earned acclaim for her debut novel “Ten Thousand Saints,” which was named one of the 10 best books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review and later made into a movie starring Ethan Hawke and Hailee Steinfeld.

Henderson’s childhood was brimming with accounts from her father and her sharecropper grandparents about the small Georgia town in which they lived. She heard tales of the hard times on the farm, but also about the resilience and the ways in which families persevere together.

Inspired to bring this world to the page, Henderson says she wanted “to capture the innocence of those country stories, and also to fracture it. I knew there was a darker narrative running alongside this one, like the quiet creek running along the [fictional] Twelve-Mile Straight.”

Entertainment Weekly called it one of this fall’s “must-read books,” while Booklist notes that, “The world of Twelve-Mile Straight — the rural back road of this engrossing novel’s title, with its illegal distillery, chain gangs and lynchings — will continue to haunt readers long after they finish the final page.”

Henderson joined the Department of Writing in the School of Humanities and Sciences in the fall of 2010. She is the founding director of the Ithaca Writers Institute and serves as co-director of the New Voices Literary Festival. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered, Poets & Writers, The Virginia Quarterly Review and The Best American Short Stories.

She will be on sabbatical this fall doing a book tour.

To learn more, visit