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By D.G. Martin D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit unctv.org/ncbookwatch.

Bookwatch returns with authors who were worth waiting for

By D.G. Martin Posted March 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

Those who missed North Carolina Bookwatch on UNC-TV while it has been off the air to make room for “Festival’s” special programming can look forward to this Sunday afternoon at five o’clock. Bookwatch returns with an encore lineup of books, authors, and characters.

It all begins next Sunday with Rachel, the blue-eyed child of a black American GI and a Danish mother, who is the central character in an award-winning novel, “The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi Durrow. Durrow herself is the child of a Danish mother and an African-American father, whose military assignments brought him to North Carolina. The author’s real struggle to find her identity provided the background for the similar fictional struggle that Rachel faced. But the novel is a darker story, a more compelling one, of a child whose mother loved her so much she wanted her child to die with her. (Durrow will be my Bookwatch guest at 5:00 p.m. Sunday, April 1.)

From “Birth of a Nation” in 1915 to Hattie McDaniel in “Gone with the Wind,” to Ethel Waters in “Member of the Wedding” in 1952, African-American actresses made their way into American movies in the first half of the last century.  In her new book, “African American Actresses: The Struggle for Visibility, 1900–1960,” UNC-Chapel Hill professor Charlene Regester tells the real stories of these women who became stars in a time of segregation and oppression. (April 8)

John Hart’s novel “The Lost Child” won for him a second Edgar Award for the best mystery novel of the year. He says his latest, “Iron House,” is even better. It is a page-turner, with much of the action set on a large estate near Chapel Hill owned by a wealthy U.S. Senator. (April 15)

Hillsborough author, Anna Jean Mayhew, and a new novel, “The Dry Grass of August”, take us all the way back to the racially-segregated Charlotte of 1954 and the poignant story of a young girl in a family under stress, being pulled apart by forces the girl does not understand. It is a story, in Lee Smith’s words, that is “written with unusual charm, wonderful dialogue, and a deeply felt sense of time and place.” (April 22)

One of North Carolina’s most respected authors, UNC-Greensboro’s Michael Parker’s new book, “The Watery Part Of The World,” is an imaginative story that blends coastal history and legends with race and other complexities to make a gripping and lovely story.  (April 29)

Best-selling author Steve Berry’s many visits to eastern North Carolina led him to set much of his newest adventure novel, “The Jefferson Key,” in and around the town of Bath, where fictional modern-day pirates live in palatial estates. (May 6)   

Rosecrans Baldwin’s first novel “You Lost Me There” is set in Maine, and Baldwin has only recently settled in Chapel Hill. But when the book was named one of National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2010, a Best Book of Summer 2010 by Time and Entertainment Weekly, and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, I knew Bookwatch viewers would want to learn about Baldwin and his highly praised book. (May 13)   

Morehead Scholar and Rhodes Scholar Robyn Hadley used her experience in counseling students in the Alamance-Burlington school system to write a book for students planning for college. The book is “Within View, Within Reach: Navigating the College-Bound Journey.” Hadley’s good advice might be even more important for parents of prospective college students. (May 20)   

Last fall, Charles Frazier’s “Nightwoods” made the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for weeks. “Nightwoods” may not be the same kind of blockbuster that his “Cold Mountain,” but it is a solid success sales-wise. “Nightwoods” is set in Frazier’s beloved North Carolina mountains. With engaging characters and a story line of suspense and surprise, this short book is attracting a new group of fans. Because it is compact it opens the doors for a wider audience to become acquainted with Frazier’s magnificent gifts. Many people who did not finish “Cold Mountain” or “Thirteen Moons” are, through “Nightwoods,” enjoying Frazier’s luscious prose. (May 27)

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