Famed Southern Writer Lee Smith To Headline Chatham Literacy Spring Event

Author Lee Smith

Described as a “preeminent voice of the South,” award-winning author Lee Smith will headline Chatham Literacy’s Spring for Literacy Author Event at the Governor’s Club on Wednesday, May 17th from 11:00am to 2:00pm.

At the fundraiser Smith will discuss her latest novel Silver Alert which critics describe as “brilliantly paced” with “energetic prose,” and a “humorous sense of the absurd in daily life.” (Tickets are $100 each, tables seat 10 people).

With fourteen novels to her name, this retired UNC English professor always writes about vivid characters and the absurdity in life. She also constantly scans her every-day experiences for ideas to explore. Sometime she hears a story while at the grocery or when reading an obituary saying, “stories are everywhere.” This became apparent several years ago on a simple road trip to the Florida Keys that Smith and her husband Hal have taken for many years.

While on Route One the couple approached a large electronic banner, or Silver Alert, about a missing senior. Five miles down the road the same sign appeared and Hal pounded the wheel saying, “Maybe it’s some old dude who’s making a break for it, running away from Assisted Living.” Smith says she and her husband had an entire plot worked out shortly afterwards, a plot including family secrets, aging and friendships. The story also has some profound questions attached.

“What to do with mom and dad is often very difficult,” Smith said. “I’d been wanting to write about this, but didn’t have a way to do it when the plot became very clear, sorta like I’d been handed a novel.”

Smith has always cared about the underdog. Growing up in a small Virginia Appalachian coal-mining town of Grundy, Smith says if someone told a lie that was often called a “story.” Lee says her parents were natural story tellers, giving her a perspective that helped her make sense of life. Writing her first novel when she was eight years old, Smith accrued a reputation as a preeminent voice of the South with one reviewer calling her the, “titular queen of the new Southern regional movement.”

The novel goes on sale April 18. When you pre-order or buy Smith’s book at McIntyre’s Books, 20% of your book sale will go to Chatham Literacy.

Now with fourteen novels to her credit, Smith is a New York Times best-selling author winning numerous awards including the American Academy for Arts and Letters, North Carolina Award for Literature and numerous others. Critics hail Lee’s “evocative prose” with her, “ear for speech and voice other writers can only envy.”

Writing is only part of Smith’s life. As a professor Lee says she always worked with new and young writers who hope to publish. Literacy is of particular concern for. She chose to work with students at the Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky which works to address critical issues surrounding literacy, food insecurity and access to traditional arts. In 1996 Pubishers Weekly said, “Smith has great empathy for the poor, uneducated country people who yearn for a transcendent message to infuse their lives with spiritual meaning.” Lee works with the schools because she says, “everybody’s story is so important that we need to register and pay attention to them.”

Atomic Silver Raffle

Invest in adult literacy by supporting our Atomic Silver Raffle.

Enter to win the possibility of six awesome prizes that will have you making your own memories. Get an atomic silver raffle ticket for $47. Why $47? That’s the atomic number for silver!

WHEN: Raffle tickets available between March 1 and May 17, 2023

WHERE: Drawing on May 17th at the Spring for Literacy Luncheon (you do NOT need to be present to win)

COST: $47 per raffle ticket

WHAT: Six opportunities to win amazing prizes:

  • 2 tickets to a Temple Theatre performance (your choice) during the fall 2023 season plus 2 truffles at intermission from Chocolate Cellar – $80 value
  • John Rosenthal 14 x 20 signed and framed print of Erwin Swamp in Durham County – $400 value
  • 4 premier seats (6th row from the field) and parking pass to see Charlotte FC play Cincinnati on July 9 – $440 value
  • Mixology class for 6 people at the Beagle in Pittsboro to learn to make four cocktails as well as enjoy those beverages and pairings (Monday or Tuesday event date) – $650 value
  • Jill McCorkle will join a book club meeting to discuss her book – priceless
  • Clyde Edgerton will join a book club meeting to discuss his book – priceless

Chatham Literacy helps adults living or working in Chatham County acquire the literacy and educational skills they need to function successfully in society.

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