Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival

2022 Winner of The Hudson Prize

A young couple raise crickets for food, a woman in a caged complex is witness to the deterioration of her neighbor, a homeless man contemplates an infant’s grave from the Westward Expansion, and an uncompromising ego takes on a Biblical rain. These are among the stories from Highwire Act & Other Tales of Survival, where the climate crisis arrives not just as strange and violent weather, but as upheavals in our political and emotional climates as well. As characters struggle for survival with Covid, ecological destruction, grief, or mental illness, they attempt to find solace and restoration from a nature that is increasingly no longer in a position to give back. And with science unable to keep up, fake suicides, fairy tales, and delusion are the thorny tools humans are left with to carry on, yet carry on they do.


JoeAnn Hart’s extraordinary stories take you on a trip: to a dystopian future; to the tidewaters of Gloucester; to the chambers of a haunted mill. But in the end, the real place she takes us is the center of the human heart. These unforgettable tales are generous, brilliant, and fierce.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There, and co-author (with Jodi Picoult) of Mad Honey

In her short story collection, Highwire Act and Other Tales of Survival, JoeAnn Hart’s characters go to the sea, deadhead flowers, eat artisanal pizzas, with humor and with humanity. These luminous stories shine long after you’ve read them.

Ann Hood, author of Fly Girl


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