Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, Nylon, Elle, and The Chicago Review of Books, Stephanie Powell Watts’ No One is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory novel from an insightful voice. Watts will be in conversation with Dee James, Professor, Literature and Language at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. James is a 40-year veteran of UNCA, a trailblazing educator who has written extensively on diversity and inclusiveness. Watts will read from and discuss her novel at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, NC,on Monday, Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m.
With echoes of The Great Gatsby, it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs.
JJ’s return–and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava–not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it.
Pulitzer-prize winning and the New York Times bestselling author Edward P. Jones says of the novel: “A grand debut novel full of characters who come into a reader’s mind and heart and never leave. Stephanie Powell Watts is a writer of wondrous skill, imagination, and sensitivity, and No One is Coming to Save Us is a beautiful testament to that.” Praising the novel, The Washington Post described “a prose style that renders the common language of casual speech into natural poetry.”
Watts has been a shoestring-factory worker, an office worker, and a food service employee. She has said that she never saw those positions as fodder for a literary career. “If they ended up in my writing, she said, it’s because they became lodged in my spirit,” not because she used them for source material.”I guess my point is that I didn’t work at the furniture factory with the massive spiders or the shoestring factory with the stinging hot glue for material, but for groceries,” Watts said.”I’m hoping there are stories in there somewhere, people I met that interested or inspired me. I hope in some small way I can represent some of those experiences and some of those people with care and precision…but, honestly, I just needed the money.”
Watts has won numerous awards, including a Whiting Award, and a Pushcart Prize. She was a PEN/Hemingway finalist and the winner of the nation’s biggest prize for African American writers, the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, for her short story collection We Are Taking Only What We Need, a collection of 11 stories that chronicles the lives of African Americans in North Carolina. She is a North Carolina native.
Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café is an independent bookstore and café founded in Asheville, NC in 1982. We bring books, writers, and readers together in an environment that nurtures community, diversity, and the joy of reading. We carry a carefully curated selection of books for adults, children, and young adults, along with a large array of gift items. Author Ann Patchett, writing in the New york Times, said of us: “Malaprop’s was the heart and soul of Asheville, NC, when Asheville was a sleepy little hippie town, and it’s still its heart and soul now.”