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Heeding the Call: A Study of Denise Giardina’s Novels by William Jolliff

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Six of the eight chapters deal in detail with one of Giardina’s novels. The first chapter gives a biographical sketch and then explores what Jolliff considers the three most important thematic complexes of Giardina’s work 1. Regional, 2. Political, and 3. Theological perspectives. He notes that only two of her novels are set in West Virginia, and the rest in Europe, but argues that all view her settings and her characters’ ties to these settings with appropriate depth. “In the last chapter, Jolliff returns to those three dimensions of Giardina’s novels while explaining the title of his book.  “Giardina’s fiction is her art, to be sure, but it is also, by her own confession, her call: her way of serving the needs of a suffering world by working hard for a better one.” Then Jolliff quotes Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous optimistic prophecy, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” With that in mind, Joliff ends his book on this uplifting and affirming sentence: “Denise Giardina’s work presents readers with models of women and men who keep their eyes on justice and who work courageously to hasten the bending of the arc.”  “A needed book, Heeding the Call offers acute commentary on all of Giardina’s novels and ties them together with overarching themes. Educators, students, scholars, and readers alike will find it useful.” - Theresa L. Burriss. The author, William Jolliff, is an English professor at George Fox University who has published a book of poetry and edited a book of John Greenleaf Whittier criticism.

Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2020. 215 pages with an Index, Bibliography, and Notes. Trade paperback.