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Celebrated Berea novelist C.E. Morgan reading at Berea College

June 11: C. E. Morgan, one of America’s most celebrated young writers, presented a rare public reading at Berea College's Loyal Jones Appalachian Center Gallery.

C. E. Morgan, '02, author of "All the Living"

The occasion was a celebration of the Spring 2010 issue of Appalachian Heritage, the literary quarterly published by Berea College, which featured her work. The event was free and open to the public.

Ms. Morgan is a Berea resident and a 2002 graduate of Berea College who holds an M.A. from Harvard Divinity School. Her first novel, “All the Living” (Amazon), published last year, has catapulted her to the top ranks of America’s most promising new authors. It won the Weatherford Award as the outstanding fiction work depicting Appalachia and was a finalist not only for the PEN/Hemingway First Fiction Book Award, but also for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award in Fiction. She was also selected as one of the winners of the National Book Award’s “5 under 35” award for young writers. And Morgan has just been named to the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers worth watching.

“All the Living,” which was a New York Times Book Review editor’s choice, is now available not only in a 2010 paperback edition, but also as a Kindle electronic book and in an audio version. Morgan will be available to sign both paperback and hardback copies of her book which will be for sale at the event. The hardback first edition copies will be available at a special reduced price.

In an interview with Thomas Fabisiak included in the Spring issue of Appalachian Heritage which will be celebrated at this event, Morgan says, “I don’t think of my writing as a job. I think of it as a vocation. . . . Vocation is tied up with notions of service, and as a young artist you serve people by giving them your best, the work you produce that you truly believe to be of value.” The value of her work has certainly been confirmed by the national recognition it has received.

Publisher’s Weekly called the novel “an enchanting debut,” and The New Yorker termed it, “a lyrical tale of grief and grueling love on a tobacco farm.” The Los Angeles Times noted that “the writing is simply astonishing.” In a review of “All the Living” in The Boston Globe, Karen Campbell wrote, “Rarely in this reviewer’s memory has a debut novel emerged with such a profound sense of place . . . Descriptions are so vivid, yet so integrated and organic, that the reader can almost feel the lassitude of stifling humid air; smell the rich, warm earth; and see the furrowed fields, the dark mountains in the distance.” In Booklist, Margaret Flanagan wrote, “Shimmering with sensibility, Morgan’s stunning debut novel traces the emotional awakening of a young woman perched precariously between worlds and desires.” Beth Kephart, writing in The Chicago Tribune, exuded, “’All the Living’ is a novel about the hardest things—about grief and lonesomeness, about desiring much and staying true, about loving through and forgiveness. It's a novel that makes you think on all of that anew, and that spares nothing and no one in the process."

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