Author Roxana Robinson mines her family’s own history to tell the story of a struggling newspaper owner during the Reconstruction-era Charleston, South Carolina in her book “Dawson’s Fall.” Join Robinson for an islandwide author event, co-sponsored by the Jesup Memorial Library, Northeast Harbor Library and Southwest Harbor Public Library, at the Mount Desert Island High School on Friday, July 12 at 5:30 p.m.
In “Dawson’s Fall,” Robinson uses the lives of her own great-grandparents to shape the fictional story of Frank Dawson, a newspaper editor in late 19th-century. Actual letters and diary entries from Robinson’s great-grandparents as well as newspaper articles from the time-period are woven amid the book, which tells Dawson’s life story. A young English man of fierce opinions, Dawson came to America to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, finding a platform of real influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his staunch principles: equal rights, rule of law, and nonviolence, unswayed by popular opinion. However, he could not control the political whims of his readers. As he wrangled diligently in his columns with questions of citizenship, equality, justice and slavery, his newspaper rapidly lost readership, and he was plagued by financial worries. Dawson also faces troubles at home; his governess, Hélène, is pursuing a disastrous relationship with the drunken doctor next door, which could wreck her future and stain his family’s reputation.
The Washington Post said that the book was one the ten best published in May and added, “Robinson…has discovered a story with as much to do with America’s present as America’s past.” And, the New York Times Book Review adds, “Dawson’s Fall asks what truth means in an era when conviction matters more, and Roxana Robinson’s answer—that morality is friable—should make us sit up and tremble.”
Robinson is the author of five previous novels, including “Sparta” and “Cost;” three collections of short stories; and the biography “Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life.” Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue, among other publications. She has received fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. Four of her works have been chosen Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times, and she was named a Literary Lion by The New York Public Library. She was president of the Authors Guild from 2014 to 2017. She teaches in the Hunter MFA program and divides her time between New York, Connecticut and Maine. She has twice won the Maine Writers and Publishers Award for Fiction.
Books will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. For more information, about Robinson or her book visit www.roxanarobinson.com.