The release Converse professor Susan Tekulve’s new novel, In the Garden of Stone from Hub City Press, will take place Thursday, April 25 from 7 – 8:30 PM at The Show Room in Spartanburg. The event is open to the public with free admission.
Winner of the South Carolina First Novel Prize in 2012, In the Garden of Stone is a multi-generational tale about the nature of power and pride, love and loss, and how one impoverished family endures estrangement from their land and each other in order to unearth the rich seams of forgiveness. The book has been named a summer “Okra Pick” from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (“Great Southern books, fresh off the vine”), and a “spring pick” from Library Journal. Kirkus Reviews calls the novel “lyrical, haunting fiction” and gave it a starred review.
“Susan’s book already has great national momentum,” said Betsy Teter, executive director of Hub City Press. “We look forward to introducing it to her home community on April 25.”
“Susan’s book already has great national momentum…”
Set in the immigrant coal camps of West Virginia and the Appalachian farmland of Virginia, In the Garden of Stone is the story of new Americans in the South. Shortly before daybreak in War, West Virginia, a passing train derails and spills an avalanche of coal over sixteen-year-old Emma Palmisano’s house, trapping her sleeping family inside. The year is 1924, and the remote mines of Appalachia have filled with families like Emma’s—poor, immigrant laborers building new lives half a world away from the island of Sicily. Emma awakes in total darkness, to the voice of a railroad man, Caleb Sypher, who is digging her out from the suffocating coal. From his pocket he removes two spotless handkerchiefs and tenderly cleans Emma’s bare feet. Though she knows little else about this railroad man, Emma marries him a week later, and Caleb delivers her from the gritty coal camp to thirty-four acres of pristine Virginia mountain farmland. Emma gives birth to a son, Dean, but the family’s life is shattered by a hobo’s bullet at the railroad station; the boy grows up early, becoming a remote man with fierce and unpredictable loyalties. Dean’s daughter, Hannah, forsakes her heritage and wanders far from home, in the end reconnecting with the Sypher family in the wildest place of all, the human heart. Bleak, harrowing, and beautifully told, In the Garden of Stone, is a haunting saga of endurance and redemption.
Susan Tekulve’s nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, and Shenandoah. She is the author of two story collections, My Mother’s War Stories, which received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize, and Savage Pilgrims, (Serving House Books, 2009). Susan has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
As associate professor of English at Converse, Tekulve’s teaching interests include creative writing: fiction, creative writing: nonfiction, professional writing, and contemporary fiction. She has taught creative writing study abroad courses in Italy for Converse’s travel study program, and is the recipient of the Kathryn Amelia Brown Award for excellence in teaching.