The newest novels and nonfiction from faculty and alumni authors
We’ve compiled a few of the hottest picks from faculty and alumni authors to start your summer reading.
Take your studies abroad through a novel from Associate Professor John Wood or settle into Western North Carolina through the words of alumni authors Sarah Addison Allen, Wiley Cash and Terry Roberts. If you’re looking for a little more history, Professor Dan Pierce has the story of moonshining in the Smoky Mountains, or you can learn about the daily rituals of great artists through the essays of alumnus Mason Currey.
The Names of Things by John Colman Wood
Set in a windswept wilderness menaced by hyenas and lions, The Names of Things weaves together the stories of an anthropologist’s journey into the desert, his firsthand accounts of the nomads' death rituals and his struggle to find the names of things for which no words exist.
The fictional account comes from anthropologist and UNC Asheville Associate Professor John Colman Wood, and this debut novel was named a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize this year. It is a a sequel to his ethnographic monograph, When Men Are Women: Manhood among Gabra Nomads of Northeast Africa.
Corn from a Jar: Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains by Dan Pierce
History Professor Dan Pierce humanizes the moonshiner in his latest book, Corn From a Jar: Moonshining in the Great Smoky Mountains. The book traces the history of moonshine back to its Scots-Irish ancestry, through more modern characters, such as Lewis Redmond, who killed a federal marshal in 1876 and was given the title of “King of the Moonshiners,” and Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton, a mostly local Maggie Valley celebrity whose fame went global in 2008 with the documentary “The Last One.”
Pierce is the chairman of the history department at UNC Asheville. His other books include Real NASCAR: White Lightning, Red Clay, and Big Bill France and Great Smokies: From Natural Habitat to National Park. Corn from a Jar will be available later this summer.
Roberts ’77 shows his deep WNC roots in his historical novel set in Hot Springs, highlighting the region his ancestors have inhabited since the Revolutionary War. His novel brings the reader back to the summer of 1917, when the U.S. enters WWI, and Roberts’ fictional mountain resort hotel the Mountain Park Hotel is pressed into service as an internment camp for more than 2,000 German nationals. This sudden collision of lives and cultures in the small town is both frightening and exhilarating.
A Short Time to Stay Here won the 2012 Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—9-year-old Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, the local sheriff—A Land More Kind Than Home is a literary thriller, thick with characters connected by faith, infidelity, addiction, and a sense of hope that is as tragic as it is unforgettable.
The debut novel has won acclaim for Cash ’00 who hails from Western North Carolina, a region that figures prominently in his fiction. A Land More Kind Than Home has been named a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, and it was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. His second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, is forthcoming in 2014.
Allen ’94 is the New York Times bestselling author of Garden Spells, The Sugar Queen, The Girl Who Chased the Moon and most recently, The Peach Keeper. The novel tells the story of an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, with characters who must confront the passions and betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover the truths that have transcended time to touch the hearts of the living.
Allen’s next book, Lost Lake, will be published in 2014.
UNC Asheville alumnus Currey ’02 profiles 161 inspired, and inspiring, minds—among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists and mathematicians—whose daily routines and rituals are recorded in the pages of his first book of essays.