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The Watery Part of the Worldby Michael Parker
Synopses & Reviews
Michael Parker has created a wholly original world from two known facts: (1) Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of the controversial vice president Aaron Burr, disappeared in 1813 while en route by schooner from South Carolina to New York; and (2) in 1970, two elderly white women and one black man were the last townspeople to leave a small barrier island off the coast of North Carolina.
In this fiction based on historical fact, Parker weaves a tale of adventure and longing as he charts one hundred and fifty years in the life and death of an island and its inhabitants-- the descendants of Theodosia Burr Alston and those of the freed man whose family would be forever tethered to hers.
It's a tale of pirates and slaves, treason and treasures, madness and devotion, that takes place on a tiny island battered by storms, infested with mosquitoes, and cut off from the world--as difficult to get to as it is impossible to leave for those who call it home. From Theodosia's capture at sea to the passionate lives of her great-great-great-granddaughters to the tender story of the black man who cares for them all his days, this is an inspired novel about love, trust, and the often tortuous bonds of family and community.
Michael Parker’s vast and involving novel about pirates and slaves, treason and treasures, madness and devotion, takes place on a tiny island battered by storms and cut off from the world. Inspired by two little-known moments in history, it begins in 1813, when Theodosia Burr, en route to New York by ship to meet her father, Aaron Burr, disappears off the coast of North Carolina. It ends a hundred and fifty years later, when the last three inhabitants of a remote island—two elderly white women and the black man who takes care of them—are forced to leave their beloved spot of land. Parker tells an enduring story about what we’ll sacrifice for love, and what we won’t.
About the Author
Michael Parker is the author of four previous novels and two books of short stories. Winner of the Hobson Prize for distinguished achievement in arts and letters, the North Carolina award for literature, and an NEA fellowship, he has been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, and others. He is a professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
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