Asheville author Dale Neal’s new novel explores denizens of rural Appalachia


Here’s a look at my Asheville Citizen-Times colleague Dale Neal’s new novel, The Half Life of Home. I’ve admired Dale’s work for a long time. Check out upcoming readings.

Dale Neal will read from “The Half-Life of Home” at 7 p.m Saturday at Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe in downtown Asheville, at 6:30 p.m April 19 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, and at Accent on Books at 854 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville at 3 p.m. April 27.

More from Joanne O’Sullivan for Asheville Scene:

There are still a few coves and hollers in Western North Carolina where you’re considered a newcomer if your family has been around for less than a couple hundred years.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking that nothing ever changes here, says Dale Neal, whose novel “The Half-Life of Home” (Casperian, 2013) explores how shifting dynamics affect the denizens of a rural Appalachian community. “The land, the people, the culture are always changing,” Neal said. “There have always been economic pressures — people moving off the land, experiencing exile.” Those issues are at the heart of the book, along with family dynamics, local legends and colorful characters. A staff writer at the Citizen-Times since 1983, Neal first came to the mountains as a child, visiting his grandparents’ farm in Watauga County. This was the place that inspired “Beaverdam,” his novel’s setting (also featured in his 2009 novel “Cow Across America”). Having grown up in Winston-Salem, he was struck by the distinct differences between the mountains and his home. Conducting interviews and attending public meetings as a reporter gave him an ear for local language and an endless curiosity about the way the region’s past and present overlap.