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The Men Who Were Left Behind

Image of the cover of The Story of Land and Sea, a debut novel by historian Katy Simpson Smith.
Katy Simpson Smith


At the end of the 18th century it was very common for women to die during childbirth. 

Many men had multiple wives, and fathers were often left to raise children on their own. During her dissertation research, historian and author Katy Simpson Smith became fascinated by the level of uncertainty and upheaval of this era. She wrote her dissertation about motherhood in the South during this time period, but later discovered that it was also the perfect backdrop for her debut work of fiction, The Story of Land and Sea (Harper/2014). The novel takes place in a small coastal settlement of Beaufort, North Carolina where two men who lost their wives to child birth grapple with love, death, slavery, religion, and their own masculinity. 

Host Frank Stasio talks to Smith about her novel and her lifelong fascination with southern history and storytelling. Smith will be reading from her novel at The Regulator Bookshop in Raleigh tonight at 7 p.m. and at Malapropsin Asheville tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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