Appalachian Stories with Shawna Kay Rodenberg and Mesha Maren


These two strong female voices in Southern writing will talk about Shawna's gritty new memoir. Our booksellers are fans of both of these ladies and their books, come see why!


About the book: When Shawna was four, her father, fresh from a ruinous tour in Vietnam, spirited her family from their home in the hills of Eastern Kentucky to Minnesota, renouncing all of their earthly possessions to live in the Body, an off-the-grid End Times religious community—a bad fit for the imaginative and precocious Shawna, who possessed a writer’s sensibility from a young age. Soon after the leader of the Body died and revelations of sexual abuse came to light, her family returned to the same Kentucky mountains that their ancestors have called home for three hundred years. It is a community ravaged by the coal industry, but for all that, rich in humanity, beauty, and the complex knots of family love.


Interweaving her own memories with genealogical research, Shawna Kay Rodenberg approaches her family’s story—and the broader story of the Appalachian region—with an open heart and open eyes. KIN is a mesmerizing memoir but above all, a story of family—about the forgiveness and love within its bounds—and generations of Appalachians who have endured, harmed, and held each other through countless lifetimes of personal and regional tragedy.


Author Bio: Shawna Kay Rodenberg holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her reviews and essays have appeared in Consequence, Salon, the Village Voice, and Elle. In 2016, Shawna was awarded the Jean Ritchie Fellowship, the largest monetary award given to an Appalachian writer, and in 2017 she was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. A registered nurse, community college English instructor, mother of five, and grandmother of one, she lives on a hobby goat farm in southern Indiana.

Mesha Maren is the author of the novel Sugar Run  (Algonquin Books). Her short stories and essays can be read in Tin House, The Oxford American, The Guardian, Crazyhorse, Triquarterly, The Southern Review, Ecotone, Sou’wester, Hobart, Forty Stories: New Writing from Harper Perennial, and elsewhere. She was the recipient of the 2015 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize, a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation grant, an Appalachian Writing Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation. She was the 2018-2019 Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an Assistant Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Duke University and also serves as a National Endowment of the Arts Writing Fellow at the federal prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia.

Event date: 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 6:00pm

Event address: 

Online On Crowdcast
Kin: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635574555
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - June 8th, 2021

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Sugar Run: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616209810
Availability: Available to Ship From Our Warehouse
Published: Algonquin Books - October 8th, 2019