Children of Dust (Paperback)

Children of Dust By Marlin Barton Cover Image

Children of Dust (Paperback)


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In 2000, as Seth Anderson researches his family history, he discovers an unexpected story and "contained within it lies a larger story that might speak not just to Southern history but beyond it." In the late 1800s in rural Alabama, Melinda Anderson struggles to give birth to her tenth child, tended by Annie Mae, a part-Choctaw midwife. When the infant dies, just hours after birth, suspicion falls upon two women—Betsy, Annie Mae’s daughter and the mixed-race mistress of Melinda’s husband, Rafe; and Melinda herself, worn out by perpetual pregnancies and nurturing a dark anger toward her husband. Seeking to clear her own name and tarnish that of her enemy, Melinda enlists the help of a conjure woman who dabbles in dark magic—with tragic consequences. As Seth's search for his family's truth continues, he must come to terms with their failure in confronting their past and in his own culpability in that failure. Filled with haunts, new and old, Children of Dust is a novel about the relationship between two women allied against a violent man with secrets of his own, and it is also a complex look at race, violence, and the ways in which stories are passed down through generations.
Marlin Barton lives in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to Children of Dust, he's published two earlier novels and three story collections. Stories of his have been included in Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and he received the Truman Capote Prize for his short fiction. Barton teaches in a program for juvenile offenders called Writing Our Stories, and he also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Converse College.
Product Details ISBN: 9781646030798
ISBN-10: 1646030796
Publisher: Regal House Publishing
Publication Date: September 10th, 2021
Pages: 298
Language: English
"In Marlin Barton’s superb new novel, two men, one black, one white, find common cause in an attempt to understand their shared ancestor, Rafe Anderson, and the mysterious deaths of two of his newborn children, but what makes Children of Dust most memorable is Barton’s refusal to simplify and judge. His characters are never caricatures, and they reveal that the greatest mysteries of all lie within the human heart. Marlin Barton is one of our most underrated writers, and I hope this novel gains him the attention he’s long deserved." —Ron Rash, author of Serena and In the Valley

"Children of Dust is a novel that Marlin Barton was born to write; an immersive story that asks the hardest questions and answers them with powerful and propulsive historical fiction. There are times in Southern, and American, history that we cannot ignore and yet we have — Marlin Barton looks the truth straight in the eyes and does not look away, allowing us to do the same. With riveting prose, Barton proves he is a master storyteller. Vivid and intense, Children of Dust will stay with you long after the last powerful word." —Patti Callahan, New York Times bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah

Children of the Dust shows how the unsettled questions from the past carry forward, creating searches for answers generations later. With clear intentions and a skillful rendering, Marlin Barton presents a family’s lineage as a winding path, and the breaks and turns give a vivid sense of how history is both made and survived.” —Ravi Howard, author of Driving the King and Like Trees, Walking, Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

Children of Dust is a brutal and beautifully written tale of family secrets, the complications of race, and a past forever connected to the present through blood ties. Marlin Barton brilliantly transforms the tropes of the traditional Southern novel—the horror of the lost war, positionality of women, miscegenation, rigid social codes—exploring the interiority of the people who lived it and the effects of their choices on the generations who came after. Though most of the novel takes place in the late nineteenth century, the present, in an ironic twist, keeps interrupting the tale of the past with ever growing urgency because for all of its focus on the past, the story is really about the present moment. The novel asks a quintessential question of Southern history: ‘How can you kill (or deny) your own children?’ Barton's haunting novel, which in many ways says what Faulkner could not about Southern families, answers this question with honesty, nuisance and grace.” —Jacqueline Allen Trimble, author of American Happiness, winner of the Balcones Poetry Prize

"I just finished Marlin Barton's intense and beautifully written novel Children of Dust and am full of admiration for both the book and its author. It's about many things at once - history, forgiveness, love and endurance - and while it's never didactic, there are lessons in these pages for all of us. This is a deeply moving tale by a richly gifted writer." —Steve Yarbrough, Author of The Unmade World and The Realm of Last Chances

"This is a universal story, but also one very personal to Barton. That connection gives the author power and a hard won understanding of the characters. This is a rich, compelling story told with assurance and an unflinching eye. Children of Dust is a story for the times we live in." —Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author of the Sarah Booth Delaney mystery series

"This moving literary achievement is a thoughtful reminder of the complexity of race relations and the truths that bind us." —Anthony Grooms, Author of The Vain Conversation and Bombingham, winner of the Lillian Smith Prize

"Barton’s knowledge of Alabama history, racial relationships, and human psychology is borne out in this often delicate, often violent, and always gripping cerebral novel." —John Newlin, reviewer for the New York Journal of Books

"Children of Dust, the new novel from Alabama native Marlin Barton, is by turns deeply moving and acutely chilling." —Steve Whitton, The Anniston Star