Long-lost work by Asheville’s Wilma Dykeman hits shelves, gets rave reviews


UNC Press has just published a posthumos memoir by Asheville writer Wilma Dykeman, a lover of Appalachian people and nature, who died 10 years ago. It’s called Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood. The book, described as an ode tot he natural world, is getting great reviews.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A captivating, poetic, difficult-to-categorize book that abundantly showcases the author’s talent for making words dance. Anyone who has lived in the countryside, or wished they had, will enjoy Dykeman’s celebration of nature.

From UNC Press:

Discovered as a typewritten manuscript only after her death in 2006, Family of Earth allows us to see into the young mind of author and Appalachian native Wilma Dykeman (1920–2006), who would become one of the American South’s most prolific and storied writers. Focusing on her childhood in Buncombe County, Dykeman reveals a perceptive and sophisticated understanding of human nature, the environment, and social justice.

From Amazon.com:

Featuring a new foreword by fellow North Carolinian Robert Morgan, Family of Earth stands as a new major literary work by a groundbreaking author.

From Library Journal:

The writing style is clear and concise, her imagery is lively, and her storytelling harkens to an earlier era without becoming overly sentimental. VERDICT A wonderful introduction to Dykeman’s works (e.g., The French Broad) for first-time readers and a welcome addition for fans.—Pam Kingsbury, Univ. of North Alabama, Florence

Here’s an interview about the book from WUNC radio. And tonight, Friday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., Dykeman’s son, Jim Stokely, will talk about the memoir at Malaprop’s in downtown Asheville:

Wilma Dykeman’s recently discovered memoir, Family of Earth: A Southern Mountain Childhood, is a gorgeous meditation on her childhood in Beaverdam and Asheville during the 1920s and 30s. Remembering moments from history, like the housing market boom and the Great Depression, as well as moments specific to her own youth, like playing in the creek near her house, her first dance lessons, and her father’s death when she was only 14, Wilma weaves a rich tapestry of clear, perfect episodes from her inspired early years. This new memoir will be presented by Wilma’s son, Jim Stokely. Don’t miss your chance to fall in love with Wilma Dykeman–for the first time or all over again!