In Jason Heit's gritty new novel-in-stories, Prairie settlers discover that their greatest challenge in a new land is each other. Kaidenberg's Best Sons is an unvarnished view of the lives of settlers in the early days of immigration to the Canadian priaries. Set in the early years of the 20th century, this book is the story of German-speaking Catholics who have emigrated from Russia to North Dakota. They learn of an opportunity to settle plots of land in Saskatchewan. As some members start packing and heading north for the promise of new land, others resent the idea of relocating.
Jason Heit describes his work as a "novel in stories." Some characters dovetail throughout the book while others appear in one or two stories. Together, these tales of grit and indomitable will give the reader various points-of-view into a small, close-knit community that is bound by heritage, a common language, and faith - yet is rife with ambition, fear, and envy.
The first story is a bitter feud between two men over plots of land, a conflict that is just one of the dark undercurrents of stress that drive the motivations and actions of the settlers. In one story a nasty quarrel ensues between one man and his brother-in-law over the in-law's treatment of his wife. The strain of isolation, bouts of loneliness, and suspicions of domestic violence pervade this tale.
One story reveals that a woman has unknowingly married the man who raped her. Another begins with a festive community picnic until jealousy and rivalry emerge as events unfold.
The final chapter centers on a card game amongst the surviving principal characters where a long-standing grudge is tragically put to rest. They are now the settlement's elders and despite the tragedies, the vendettas, and the resentments, they are still a community.
Jason Heit was raised on his family's farm in west central Saskatchewan. Growing up in a rural community that struggled to thrive inspired him to study rural issues and work in the area of community economic development in Canada, Latin America, and Mongolia. He holds a Master's of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on co-operative organizations from the University of Saskatchewan, and continues to work in economic development as a policy analyst with the federal government. Heit's writing often reflects his interest in rural communities and people, their issues and stories. His short stories have appeared in Event and Coffin Bell. Kaidenberg's Best Sons is his first book. Jason Heit and his wife, Jacqueline, have two children. They live near Pike Lake, Saskatchewan.