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NC Writer Lays Bare The Relevance Of The 1901 Novel ‘The Marrow Of Tradition’

The cover features a house on fire
Courtesy of Belt Publishing

19th century writer Charles Chesnutt was once the most popular African-American author of his time. But everything changed after he published the 1901 book “The Marrow of Tradition” (Houghton, Mifflin and Company/1901). It was a fictionalized account of the 1898 race riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, and critics slammed the book. A high-profile editor even called it “bitter.”

The book ruined Chesnutt’s reputation and career, but today’s critics and literary figures view the novel differently and argue that it is still relevant to this day. North Carolina author Wiley Cash wrote a new introduction to the novel which will be released in the latest edition of “The Marrow of Tradition” (Belt Publishing/2019).

Cash joins host Frank Stasio to talk about Chestnutt’s career and his prescient novel. Cash is the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He is also the founder of the Open Canon Book Club and the co-founder of The Land More Kind Appalachian Artists Residency. Cash will be reading and giving a talk on Tuesday, April 16 at the Bellamy Mansion Museum in Wilmington.

Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
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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