Against the backdrop of the rising commercial fishing industry in an Alaskan Native village, Under Nushagak Bluff is a powerful mid-century tale of women, love, loss, resilience, and the unexpected strength found in storytelling.
In 1939, everything changes for Anne Girl when outsider John Nelson grounds his sailboat on the shores, into Anne Girl’s skiff, and into her life during a rare storm in the Alaskan fishing village of Nushagak. When Anne Girl and her mother, Marulia, find their skiff flattened by John’s boat, Anne Girl decides she both hates and wants him. Thus begins a generational saga of strong, stubborn Yup’ik women living in a village that has been divided between the new and the old, the bluff side and the missionary side, the cannery side and the subsistence side.
“This novel brilliantly explores the lives of one bloodline of Alaskan women struggling to make a home for themselves in a small fishing community. They embrace the duel impulses of the natural world to sustain and ruin them by guiding each other through epic struggles to secure food, warmth, and love. They share the wonder of what the tides deliver, secrets of how to handle the men who work the cannery, and the value of stories that connect you to the past. Full of passionate, unforgettable characters, and told with poetic prose and dreamlike laments, Heavener announces her Alaska-sized talent to the world.”—Devin Murphy, author of national bestseller The Boat Runner and Tiny Americans
“Mia Heavener’s Under Nushagak Bluff shines like the first salmon of summer. An alluring and beautiful story of community and culture, Heavener delivers a tale that reveals the real heart of Alaska.”—Don Rearden, author of The Raven’s Gift, and the hit memoir Never Quit