Mia Heavener

Mia Heavener is of Norwegian, Polish, and Yup’ik heritage. Her experience in rural Alaska is both personal and professional. After graduating from MIT with a degree in civil engineering, Mia returned home to design water and wastewater systems in Alaskan Native villages. During the summers, she commercial fishes with her family in Bristol Bay. She believes that everyone should have a good whiff of the tundra at least once in their life, if not twice. She has an MFA from Colorado State University. Her fiction has appeared in Cortland Review and Willow Springs.

All Books

Under Nushagak Bluff

Mia Heavener

Publication Date: November 12, 2019

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-809-0


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


Anchorage Press features story on Mia Heavener’s UNDER NUSHAGAK BLUFF

Seagulls swoop and dive, crying in the salty air. The waves of Nushagak Bay crash on sandbars and rocky shores. Machines rattle the warehouses on the cannery side of the village “where the beach flattened and the boardwalks grew tall.” So many sounds; so many stories. Yet as I page through Mia Heavener’s 2020 novel […]

Arts At MIT: A Writer’s Voyage: Mia Heavener, MIT Course 1, 2000

“Be stubborn and ultimately believe in your writing,” advises first-time novelist Mia Heavener ’00, “especially if you are having crappy writing days.”   On April 13, Heavener visited Wyn Kelley’s literature course “Reading Fiction: Voyages” to share her story of writing Under Nushagak Bluff (Red Hen Press, 2019). Conducted via Zoom, the class engaged a group of eager […]


Thanks for the shoutout World Wide Work!

UNDER NUSHAGAK BLUFF by Mia C. Heavener, SUBDUCTION by Kristen Millares Young, and SUMMER OF THE CICADAS by Chelsea Catherine were all featured on the newsletter World Wide Work: Books, Films, Music You May Have Missed. To read more, click here.