• By Terri Bonow
  • Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FCPL Brings N.C. Author Anna Jean Mayhew to Central

Anna Jean Mayhew will read from her compelling new novel, The Dry Grass of August, a finalist for the 2011 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction.

Mayhew is a fascinating North Carolina author who leads an exciting life, both professionally and personally. You will be delighted to hear her story. She is a native of Charlotte, NC. Her writing reflects her vivid memories of growing up in the segregated South.

In The Dry Grass of August, A girl comes of age in the tumultuous 1950s South in Mayhew's strong debut. When 13-year-old Jubie Watts goes on a Florida vacation with her family in 1954, Mary, the family's black maid who's closer to Jubie than her own mother, comes along, and though the family lives in North Carolina, Jubie notices the changing way Mary is received the further south they travel. After a tragedy befalls the family, Jubie's eyes are opened to the harsh realities of racism and the importance for standing up for one's beliefs—though this does little to help her when her father's failures in business and marriage lead to the family falling apart. In Jubie, Mayhew gives readers a compelling and insightful protagonist, balancing Jubie's adolescence with a racially charged plot and other developments that are beyond her years. Mayhew keeps the story taut, thoughtful, and complex, elevating it from the throng of coming-of-age books. ~Publisher’s Weekly

In a previous career, Anna Jean Mayhew was a court reporter, which gave her invaluable insights into speech patterns and dialect, bringing the ring of truth to the dialogue in her fiction. She also worked in opera management, where she participated in a production of Willie Stark, based on Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the King’s Men. Because of her admiration for Warren’s writing, A.J. chose a phrase from his poem, “Star-Fall,” as the title of her first novel, The Dry Grass of August. For twelve years, Mayhew was production editor of a major medical journal, work that gave her the research skills necessary to validate the historical facts in her fiction, set in the 1950s and 60s.

Mayhew’s first national publication “In the Garden,” was included in Volume I of Writers of the Future, and is indicative of her wide variety of interests. She has edited publications as diverse as Space Grits, a fan magazine for southern science fiction, and The Camel’s Nose: Memoirs of a Curious Scientist, by Dr. Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, winner of the International Prize for Biology.

Mayhew lives in Hillsborough, NC, with her husband, Jean-Michel Margot, an internationally respected scholar of Jules Verne. She is working on her second novel, Tomorrow’s Bread, which will also be published by Kensington.

For more information, please contact Terri Bonow at 703-3050 or email bonowtl@forsythlibrary.org.

Anna Jean Mayhew & The Dry Grass of August
Monday, September 19th
4:30 - 5:30 pm
Central Library Auditorium

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