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Southern Voices Guests 2013

Lisa See

Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m.
in The Library Theatre

Reception follows.

Southern Voices warmly welcomes best-selling novelist, Lisa See, to our conference.  After the presentation, we invite you to join Ms. See on the Library Plaza for a book signing and reception. Books will be available for purchase.

Best-selling author, Lisa See, has penned eight books including the critically-acclaimed novels Peony in Love, Snowflower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls. Her most recent novel, Dreams of Joy, debuted at number one on The New York Times Best Sellers List in 2011.

Ms. See’s Chinese-American heritage has influenced her writing. Her first book, On Gold Mountain:The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family, recounts the story of her great-grandfather who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family.

Focusing on the lives of women throughout history, her most current novels, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, tell the story of two beautiful, sophisticated and well-educated sisters, May and Pearl, who live in Shanghai during the 1930s. When they learn that their parents are on the verge of bankruptcy, the two sisters are forced to marry men from Los Angeles.  

Intrigued by stories that have been forgotten, Ms. See traveled to a remote area of China to research the secret writing invented, used and kept a secret by women for over a thousand years. The trip resulted in the eloquent, captivating novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

In addition to writing books, Ms. See was a Publishers Weekly West Coast Correspondent and freelance journalist for Vogue, Self and More. She was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001 and was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003.

“Achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination….a story so mesmerizing that the pages float away and the story remains clearly before us from beginning to end.” ~Amy Tan on Snowflower and the Secret Fan

Ron Rash

Ron Rash is a novelist, poet, short story writer and Southern Voices alumnus. In 2008, Rash’s fourth novel Serena received wide accolades and was named as Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, listed to The New York Times’ 10 Favorite Books of 2008 and was a finalist for the 2009 Pen/Faulkner Award. According to Pat Conroy, Serena catapulted Rash to “the front ranks of the best American novelists.”  In 2013, Serena will make its debut on the silver screen starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as Serena and George Pemberton.  His latest novel, The Cove, explores how the lives of one Appalachian Valley family is forever changed by a stranger.

Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash is a native of western North Carolina, a region that plays a critical role in his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home. A literary mystery surrounding the death of a young autistic boy during a church healing service, the book has garnered much critical acclaim and was listed as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Southern Indie Booksellers Allliance Pick. The Washington Post calls Wiley Cash a “promising new voice to Southern fiction.”

Dorothea Benton Frank

Dorothea Benton Frank is The New York Times best-selling author of 13 novels including Lowcountry Summer, Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island. Born and raised on Sullivan’s Island, Mrs. Frank is known for her eloquent descriptions of the South Carolina lowcountry. Her latest novel, Porch Lights, is the story of a woman who returns to her childhood home for healing when her husband, a fireman, is killed in the line of duty. Filled with pluff mud, palmetto fronds and ocean breeze, the novel combines themes of love, loss, grief, motherhood and friendship.

Grant Jerkins

Grant Jerkins has published three novels, including the Southern gothic coming of age story, At the End of the Road and The Ninth Step. Each of these novels primarily focus on the dark side of humanity—prompting The Washington Post to remark, “You have to admire the purity of Jerkins’s writing: He’s determined to peer into the darkness and tell us exactly what he sees.”  Pegged by The New York Times as a “well-fashioned study in abnormal psychology,” his debut novel A Very Simple Crime has been optioned for a film.

Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is the author of three novels including Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling and most recently, The Silver Sparrow, which follows two daughters, one public and one secret, who meet and become friends. The powerful, explosive novel has received overwhelming praise from the media, readers and booksellers alike. Named to O, The Oprah Magazine’s Favorite Books of 2011 and Library Journal’s Top Ten Best Books of  2011, Michele Norris described the book as “a complicated, heartbreaking and very rich story” on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Michel Stone

Michel Stone’s debut novel The Iguana Tree is the suspenseful saga of Lilia and Hector, who separately make their way from Mexico into the United States, seeking work in the Carolinas and a home for their infant daughter. Kirkus Review compared the novel to the work of John Steinbeck, and it received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and a 2012 “Okra Pick” from the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Association. 

Wendy Wax

Wendy Wax has written eight novels, including Ocean Beach, Single in Suburbia, Magnolia Wednesdays, and the Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist, The Accidental Bestseller. Her latest novel, Ocean Beach is the sequel to Ten Beach Road, the story of three strangers who form a unique friendship when they are forced to unite with a common purpose: restore an aged Florida vacation home and regain their stolen fortune.

Alexi Torres

Artist Reception 
Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Friends Gallery - Theatre Level

Free and open to the public
Artwork on display through March

“My works have been the result of my inspiration regarding my life experiences. My creations and ideas are the combination of universal problems and the reflection of certain established ideas that I have witnessed. Early works were inspired from the political and social circumstances that exist in my homeland, Cuba.

Upon arrival in the United States, I experienced new responsibilities with my surroundings. This changed my worldview and the target of my works: seeing earth and all its life forms integrated and as one. It is inspired by wisdom and philosophy throughout the ages, projecting into the future and expressing the responsibility of now.

Individual’s positive actions become collective achievement. Understanding this, I use the canvas platform to transmit today’s needs, positively. Using universal laws in the realization process of my art, I build the stretcher, stretch and prime the canvas, then start and finish each work on the waning moon. This is like my father and his ancestors have done in their harvesting. It is my way of planting an idea and completing it, working with universal forces and laws, organically.

My works are an answer to my own appreciation of earth’s needs. I reconstruct iconic images that represent both classic and modern times from all branches of human development, including the arts, politics, science, education and military. I create this by changing the context of the initial forms into ecological, fragile, ephemeral and natural elements; leaves, weaving, feathers and other elements formed in nature. With each element carefully constructed, I create a new image.

These basic, earthly elements are readily available. They are sincere, yet complex in their simplicity. The intricate patterns and details in the paintings show the fulfillment that we find in basic organic elements; on how we are all interconnected with each other, on a spiritual and physical level. The past influences the present and the present influences the future. We need each other to evolve with the universe. I want to fill the connection of nature in my works.

In this manner, the paintings act on the viewers’ consciences, creating a reflection in the way in which people absorb my art. Remaking classic images, such as a historic moment or icon that is well known, while changing the whole concept, transmits a fresh and direct message: to create casual images in a unique, peaceful piece.

For my continuous comprehension of the world, I have the need to continue creating in hopes of benefiting civilization while being responsible with my message in current times. I still find myself in each painting and I am aware of creating a necessary message . . . to be conscious of living and critical thinking.”