The Discontinuity
of Small Things


We are used to acts of bravery that sweep down upon the scene like tornadoes. We are used to humiliating defeats that are deserved paybacks. We are used to the depiction of war in books and film as a series of battles between soldiers in distinguishing uniforms. Especially when dealing with Hitler and the Holocaust, the enemies are now obvious, the looming evil obvious, the unbelievable consequences now the obvious result.

Into this violent world delves Kevin Haworth in his subtle, lovely, and remarkable novel, The Discontinuity of Small Things. Here is a story of the Danish Resistance during World War II, a resistance to the German Occupation that involved almost no violence. Haworth follows the lives of several individuals as they meander through their everyday lives, the German occupation heightening moments here and there until the random moments accumulate into an act of startling courage or startling cowardice, a transforming instant of enlightenment or sorrow. A medical student tries to live his small life, working at the hospital and chasing nurses. A girl watches the parade of German soldiers with her father. A fisherman longs to stay put while his wife wishes to move to Copenhagen. The lives of these non-intersecting characters intersect with a greater force, the tide of History. As they make their small choices, these characters are carried along to a point where they must make fateful life or death choices.

Kevin Haworth, in evocative, spare prose, speaks of the extraordinary occasions that visit average lives, and he reminds us that acts of courage usually begin with people like us.

—Nancy Zafris, 2006 finalist judge

2006 Fiction Runner-Up

Photo of Kevin Haworth

Kevin Haworth
The Discontinuity of Small Things

Kevin Haworth was born in Brooklyn in 1971. He attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, majoring in English and graduating with Honors in 1992. It was at Vassar that he began writing fiction, studying with novelist Thomas Mallon, and was one of twelve Vassar students selected to write a final thesis project focused on creative work.

After graduation, he moved to Israel to participate in Sherut La’am (Service to the People), a year-long volunteer program. He studied Hebrew and worked as an avocado farmer at a kibbutz in the north, then moved to the Negev Desert where he worked in a community center.

In 1995 he received a teaching fellowship to Arizona State University, earning an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing in 1997. While there, he taught fiction workshops and published his first story, “The Story of Jonah and the Whale,” which won the Permafrost Fiction Prize. During that time he also began work on The Discontinuity of Small Things.

In 1997 he moved to Philadelphia, where his wife was attending rabbinical school. His second published story, “The Promised Land,” won the David Dornstein Prize for Young Jewish Writers in 1998. In 1999 and in 2001 he was awarded month-long residencies to the Vermont Studio Center, where he worked as a carpenter and wrote long sections of his novel. In 2006, his novel The Discontinuity of Small Things was recognized as a notable title in the Writers Notes Magazine Book Awards and was also awarded the Samuel Goldberg & Sons Foundation Prize for Jewish Fiction by Emerging Writers.

He now lives in Athens, Ohio, and teaches writing and literature at Ohio University. He is married to Rabbi Danielle Leshaw


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