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.