When Angela Belcher Epps’ novella “Salt in the Sugar Bowl” opens, Sophia Sawyer is making her way on a Coastline Express bus “past the black fields of eastern North Carolina,” leaving the fictional town of Hayden for Norington, where she can find work and “live off the profits left by a steady stream of tourists.”
Three days earlier, a social worker showed up at the door with a baby and a young boy, the other children of her husband Hunt Sawyer. Sophia, despite her moral reluctance, decides to leave Hunt and their children forever.
After a five-year hiatus, the North Carolina Literary Festival is back, with this year’s celebration of reading to be held April 3-6 at N.C. State University in Raleigh. The theme is “The Future of Reading.” The last festival was held at UNC Chapel Hill in 2009, and before that, at Duke University in 2006, when it was called the N.C. Festival of the Book. The three major Triangle universities take turns hosting the festival.
This is the book. This is the novel you’ll tell your friends to read this year. This is the book that will push all those other set in the South during Jim Crow books to the dusty end of the bookshelf. “The Secret of Magic” by Deborah Johnson is a work of masterful storytelling, telling truth with fiction in a novel that comes alive with every word on the page. With as many curves as there are branches on magnolia trees, this novel will take you into the forest and leave a mark on you.
“Sentenced to writing” is how novelist and clinical psychologist Lucy Daniels describes her life as a writer in a new collection of stories titled “Walking with Moonshine: My Life in Stories” (iUniverse, $16.95). Daniels is the daughter of Jonathan Daniels, of the family that started The News & Observer of Raleigh. Lucy Daniels, author of the novels “Caleb My Son” and “High on a Hill,” struggled with anorexia as a child, and spent time in mental institutions. Writing was a means of coping with that isolation.
Local writer M.K. Hammond, a former math teacher, Bible studies teacher and member of the Triangle Jewish Chorale, has written a historical novel “The Rabbi of Worms” (Resource Publications, $31). Set in 1096 in Germany, the period of the first crusade, the story centers on the character of 6-year-old Josef, a Christian boy tormented by bullies, who is befriended by Mosche, an older boy who lives in the Jewish quarter of the city of Worms on the Rhein River.
Sarah Addison Allen, the Asheville author whose novels are set in familiar Southern places – mostly imagined, but familiar all the same – is back with a wonderful new book. “Lost Lake” is set in Georgia, at an aging getaway spot that has been a place of sanctuary, friendship, love, loss, solace and new life.
NEW YORK — In 2013, everything and nothing happened in the publishing industry.
It was a blockbuster year for the legal profession. A federal judge ruled that Apple had conspired with five publishers to fix e-book prices, while another federal judge allowed Google to continue scanning books — without the permission of authors or publishers — for a digital library.
In Drew Perry’s new novel “Kids These Days” (Algonquin Books, $14.95), Walter, a loan officer who gets laid off from his job, and his pregnant wife, Alice, move to a vacant condo in Florida. There, Walter takes on a rather nebulous assignment for Mid, Alice’s brother-in-law, a freewheeling real estate and business investor. As the true nature of Mid’s business unfolds, Walter must come to terms with his reluctance to become a father.
The connections of Thelonious Monk, Nina Simone and John Coltrane to North Carolina are widely known. What many North Carolinians may not know is that the streets they walk, the churches where they pray, the restaurants where they hang out, may also have helped give birth to gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, funk, hip-hop and other music of the African-American tradition.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Evelyn Pearl Booker Wicker of Fuquay-Varina has written a history of Durham’s African-American hospital-based school, Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, filled with memories from alumni and historic photographs. “Voices: Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, Durham, NC 1903…” covers the history of the school that operated from 1903 to 1971, educating hundreds of African-American women during the Jim Crow era. “Voices” grew from an undergraduate nursing research project, “A Brief History of Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing,” while the writers were enrolled at NCCU in 1971.
The 2014 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize is now open for submissions. For the first time, writers may submit their short stories electronically through Submittable.com.
Presenting the second part of the 17th annual Wilde Awards for longer books. Because there are too many books and too little print space, you’ll find more suggestions at www.heraldsun.com.
Late last month, a headline in The New York Times announced “Louis D. Rubin Jr., Publisher, Scholar and Champion of Southern Writers, Dies at 89.” Similarly at the top of a story in The Washington Post, “Louis D. Rubin, fount of Southern writing, dies at 89.”
One day in 1969, a letter arrived in Brandt Ayers’ newspaper office in small-town Alabama from a man he’d never heard of. Dr. Tom Naylor, a Duke University economics professor, had an invitation for him.
After a decade and half of civil rights strife following the Supreme Court’s school desegregation decision, with the states of the old Confederacy in turmoil as they coped with and fought the new order, Naylor and a few others had a vision of a New South. Soon after, Ayers joined Naylor and other young, progressive Southerners in Chapel Hill at a UNC conference center.
Every year at The Herald-Sun, we receive countless submissions of books for possible review. Every year, we pick some of our favorites from the preceding months to recommend as possible gifts. Here are a few guilty pleasures and scholarly tomes that I enjoyed, and that might make a good gift for someone: