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NC Literary Hall of Fame




Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood by Wilma Dykeman

UNC Press
$18.00, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-469629148
September, 2016
Nonfiction: Memoir
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"As is true of so many writers from western North Carolina, Wilma Dykeman’s fiction played an important role in my development, and the publication of a work we did not even know existed is cause for celebration. This precocious memoir shows a young author finding her voice as she describes a childhood whose seismic event was the death of a beloved father. Family of Earth is a valuable addition to understanding Dykeman and her later work, but it is also a fascinating, deeply moving account of a writer’s developing sensibility."
—Ron Rash, author of Above the Waterfall

"Wilma Dykeman is indeed a 'tall woman' who has cast her long shadow over many other Appalachian women writers, especially me, inspired early on by both her beautiful writing and her social conscience. Family of Earth is a revelation; here is a little poet, an only child raised in relative isolation who knew her parents as friends, who lived and breathed the mountains and the whole natural world around her—this extraordinary childhood clearly informed the woman she would become, what she would do and write. I will place this book next to Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings on my shortest and most important bookshelf."
—Lee Smith, author of Dimestore: A Writer’s Life

“A captivating, poetic, difficult-to-categorize book that abundantly showcases the author’s talent for making words dance. Anyone who has lived in the countryside, or wished they had, will enjoy Dykeman’s celebration of nature.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Discovered as a typewritten manuscript only after her death in 2006, Family of Earth allows us to see into the young mind of author and Appalachian native Wilma Dykeman (1920–2006), who would become one of the American South’s most prolific and storied writers. Focusing on her childhood in Buncombe County, Dykeman reveals a perceptive and sophisticated understanding of human nature, the environment, and social justice. And yet, for her words’ remarkable polish, her voice still resonates as raw and vital. Against the backdrop of early twentieth-century life in Asheville, she chronicles the touching, at times harrowing, story of her family’s fortunes, plotting their rise and fall in uncertain economic times and ending with her father’s sudden death in 1934 when she was fourteen years old.

Featuring a new foreword by fellow North Carolinian and NC Literary Hall of Fame inductee Robert Morgan, Family of Earth stands as a new major literary work by a groundbreaking author.

Wilma Dykeman was a novelist, historian, journalist, educator, speaker, and environmentalist who pioneered in the areas of water pollution, civil rights, oral history, Appalachian studies, and the empowerment of women. She was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1998.

Children of Italy by Christine Simolke

Hawkins Publishing Group
$13.95, paperback / $4.99 (e-book) / ISBN: 978-0-9962145-1-3
June, 2016
Fiction: Historical
Available from your local bookstore or www.Amazon.com

"Our country has been made great by immigration and this is a wonderful story of one immigrant family from Italy who make a life despite hardships and temptations. It is a fresh, loving, sad, and joyful look at how one family adjusts to life in a new country. This is a great read from a new voice in historical fiction."
—Karen Dugas, Reviewer, Book-of-the-Month Club

"Christine Simolke's insightful Children of Italy depicts a very personal tale. Family lore...is woven into a deeply felt, sweetly told historical novel."
Historical Novels Review

A lonely man’s affair with an alluring woman threatens to destroy his beloved family. It’s 1924. Italian immigrant Luigi Falconi has been away from home for twelve years working as a coal miner in West Virginia to carve out what he hopes will be a better life for his family. After years of separation, his wife, Appollonia, and three daughters leave Italy to join him in America. Just before they arrive, Luigi breaks off an affair with his lover, Isolde. Though she knows from the beginning that Luigi will leave her when his family arrives, Isolde cannot accept his decision to abandon her now that the time has come.

While on board the SS Roma as it sails to Ellis Island, Luigi’s eldest daughter, Giovanna, begins her first romance with a member of the crew, Alessandro. When he immigrates to America a short time later, intent on finding her, she has disappeared. No one in the small town of Covel, West Virginia, knows why the Falconi family slipped away under the cloak of darkness. Luigi’s jilted lover is also desperate to find them. Only Appollonia’s brother, Bernandino, knows where they’ve gone, and he, too, has a secret.

As the Falconi family adjusts to being reunited and struggles to assimilate into life in a new country, Alessandro perseveres in his hunt for Giovanna, and his search intersects with the bitter Isolde’s efforts to win Luigi back, with heartbreaking and surprising consequences for all of them.

Christine Simolke is the granddaughter of Italian immigrants. She was inspired by her grandmother’s life story to write a novel of the immigrant experience. She has traveled to countries all over the world and is thankful that her ancestors chose to settle in the United States. She is a former language arts teacher and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband. They are the parents of two wonderful young men. When she is not writing, she's active in non-profit work.

The idea for her book, Children of Italy, was formed many years ago when she wrote a research paper in graduate school based on an interview with her grandmother, Giovanna and stories her great aunt, Evelina told her. Her grandmother and her family immigrated from Italy to America in the 1920s, and Christine and her family were always fascinated by the stories of their voyage to America and their early life in the United States. Their tale of hope, struggle, perseverance and love of family has been an inspiration to all of the generations after them.

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