This year marks the 25th anniversary of Giardina's award-winning novel, Storming Heaven, which tells the story of life in the state's southern coalfield and the events leading up to and culminating with the Battle of Blair Mountain, between unionists and coal forces backed by federal troops and air support.
Her novel and a sequel, The Unquiet Earth, were fictional, she said, but based on truth. Their point, said the author, was simple: "The coal company giveth and the coal company taketh away." In her lecture Sunday, Giardina described the coal industry today "as Godzilla suffering a wound and thrashing around before death. . . .What do we have left?" she asked. "We have a community that's ravished by drugs, where there are no jobs."