On Jan. 11, the Friends of the Library will host their annual meeting in the Pate Room at the Headquarters Library in downtown Fayetteville. And while some business will be discussed, the highlight of the evening will be a reading and a discussion of her works by noted Southern author Sharyn McCrumb.
McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, whose novel St. Dale, is the story of a group of ordinary people who go on a pilgrimage in honor of racing legend Dale Earnhardt, and fi nd a miracle. This Canterbury Tales in a NASCAR setting won a 2006 Library of Virginia Award as well as the AWA Book of the Year Award. Once Around the Track, again set in NASCAR, is a nominee for the 2007 Weatherford Award.
McCrumb has been named a “Virginia Woman of History” for 2008, an annual designation honoring eight women — past and present — who have made important contributions to Virginia and to America in the arts, law, education, politics, etc.
McCrumb is best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains. Her novels include New York Times Best Sellers She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket, which deal with the issue of the vanishing wilderness, and The Ballad of Frankie Silver, the story of the fi rst woman hanged for murder in the state of North Carolina; The Songcatcher, a genealogy in music; and Ghost Riders, an account of the Civil War in the Appalachians. A fi lm of her novel The Rosewood Casket is currently in production, directed by British Academy Award nominee Roberto Schaefer.
McCrumb’s honors include: the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society; AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chaffi n Award for Achievement in Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received her M.A. in English from Virginia Tech.
McCrumb, whose books have been translated into more than 10 languages, was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2001 she served as fi ction writer-in-residence at the WICE Conference in Paris, and in 2005 she was honored as the writer of the year at the annual literary celebration at Emory and Henry College. McCrumb has lectured on her work at Oxford University, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Bonn, Germany, and at universities and libraries throughout the country.
McCrumb’s great-grandfathers were circuit preachers in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains a hundred years ago, riding horseback over the ridges to preach in a different community each week. It is from them, she says, that she gets her regard for books, her gift of storytelling and public speaking, and her love of the Appalachian Mountains.
“My books are like Appalachian quilts,” says McCrumb. “I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life, and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South.”
Her latest novel, Devil Amongst the Lawyers, is the story of a pretty young schoolteacher charged with murder in 1930s Appalachia. The national press uses it as an excuse to sell newspapers — and to demonize the region, raising issues that go far beyond the fate of one defendant.
McCrumb’s lecture follows a short Friends of the Library business meeting where the results of the executive board elections will be announced. The event begins at 7 p.m., and is open to the public.
Photo: Sharyn McCrumb