Denise Giardina grew up in a coal camp in McDowell County, West Virginia. She received a B.A. in history from West Virginia Wesleyan College and an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary (Episcopal) in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ms. Giardina has written six novels: “Good King Harry” (Harper and Row, 1984), “Storming Heaven” (W.W. Norton, 1987), “The Unquiet Earth” (W.W. Norton, 1992), “Saints and Villains,” (W.W. Norton, 1998), “Fallam’s Secret” (W.W. Norton, 2004) and “Emily’s Ghost” (W.W. Norton, 2009). She is also the author of a play, “Robert and Ted” (2012), about Senators Robert C. Byrd and Ted Kennedy.
“Storming Heaven” was a Discovery selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, and a New Voices selection of the the Quality Paperback Book Club. “Storming Heaven” also received the 1987 W.D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. “The Unquiet Earth” also received the Weatherford Award as well as an American Book Award and the Lillian Smith Award for Fiction, the oldest literary award in the South. “Saints and Villains” was awarded the 1999 Boston Book Review Fisk Fiction Prize and was a semifinalist for the International Dublin Literary Award.
Giardina’s op-ed pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Charleston (WV) Gazette and Daily Mail. She has published in The Nation, Southern Exposure, Emmy, and the Village Voice. She is also the author of an original half-hour screenplay, “The Gift Horse,” filmed by West Virginia Public Television in 1996.
Giardina took part in the Appalachian Land Ownership Study in the early 1980s which documented that the region is dominated by absentee land ownership. She was arrested twice during the United Mine Workers’ strike against the Pittston Company in the late 1980s. She is an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church.