Kathleen Hill's finely wrought vel tells the story of four generations of an Irish-American family that has lived in the same house for almost a century. Grieving the death of her mother and the imminent sale of the house, the narrator sets out to re-create the hidden, intimate lives of those who came before. Through a series of vignettes she conjures a family devastated in each generation by the loss of a child. The narrator's project, inspired at the outset by silences that extend backward to the untold story of the Famine, turns into a vast exploration of loss, inheritance, and the nature of memory. In a voice both stark and lyrical, the narrator calls up transformative, often tragic, moments in lives that have shaped her own. Remembering a past she never knew, she hopes to release from its sway the vanishing present. Who Occupies This House is a strikingly beautiful account of the difficult reckoning with one's family legacy that every adult faces. Punctuated by photographs and images that bring the narrative into sharp focus, it will draw comparisons to such divergent writers as W.G. Sebald and Kate O'Brien.
Kathleen Hill teaches in the M.F.A. Program at Sarah Lawrence College. Her novel Still Waters in Niger (Northwestern, 1999) was named a Notable Book by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and the French translation was shortlisted for the Prix Femina Etranger. It was also nominated for an IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Pushcart Prize XXV, and The Pushcart Book of Short Stories.