By Abby Davis
“When the daughter of Indian immigrants, who grew up in a small rural town in the segregated South, can become the first female and minority governor of her state and the youngest governor in the nation, then it’s clear that the American Dream still exists.” This inspiring quote is one of Nikki Haley’s final comments in her autobiography published last April, Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story.
Her story begins with her parents immigrating to North America and ultimately moving to the small town of Bamberg, South Carolina where she was born. They were the only Indian family there and she explains that they faced many initial hardships when neither side of a segregated town would accept them, since they were neither white nor black. Her story miraculously ends, however, with her describing her first 250 days as governor of this very same state.
Through her detailed accounts of all the unbelievable obstacles she encountered on her path to the governor’s mansion, it becomes clear the only way she got there was by truly letting can’t never be an option. She spends plenty of time illustrating the policies and practices she believes in—which revolve around “limited, responsible, transparent government”—and we see the truth of these statements reflected through her work in the House and now as governor.
This book also, however, allows the audience to see not just Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina—but to see and understand Nikki. She reveals Nikki the grateful boss; Nikki who got giddy about meeting Sarah Palin; Nikki who likes to “get excited”; Nikki who celebrates with the Black Eyed Peas’ hit “I Gotta Feeling”; Nikki the caring mother; Nikki the loving wife; and Nikki who cares deeply about all South Carolinians.
Whether you support her political “Movement” or not, this book shares an incredible story that all South Carolinians can be proud of. She frequently describes how incredibly proud she is of the progress that South Carolina has made and continues to make in overcoming bigoted, antiquated ideals of the past. Nikki Haley herself is proof of the progress and her book does not just tell her triumphant story, but also tells a story of triumph for all of South Carolina.
By Abby Davis
The Story of the H.L. Hunley and Queenie’s Coin by Fran Hawk explores the mystery surrounding the first submarine to ever sink an enemy warship as well as George Dixon’s lucky gold coin gifted to him by his love, Queenie Bennett. The book closely follows the creation of the H.L. Hunley, its first tragic voyages, its mysterious disappearance, and ends with the long awaited resurrection of the submarine in August 2000. The resurfacing of the Hunley is depicted as a joyful day in which 20,000 people at the Charleston Harbor welcomed the submarine back from the depths of the ocean where it was hidden for 136 years.
While the story mostly shares the mysteries of the Hunley, Dixon’s lucky gold coin from Queenie is an important feature as well. The coin had proven to be very lucky at the Battle of Shiloh where it saved Dixon’s leg and ultimately his life. The coin was in fact discovered in the excavation of the Hunley right where Lt. Dixon would have been sitting, but unfortunately it had not been lucky enough to save the Hunley and it’s crew.
The story itself is riveting and educational, but the charm of this book lies in the beautiful illustrations by Dan Nance. Nance is a noted Civil War artist and some of his works can be seen at the South Carolina State Museum.
The South Carolina State Library’s Center for the Book, in cooperation with USC Press and Hub City Press, is pleased to announce its spring 2013 author line up. The Speaker @ the Center program will hold free lunchtime author talks on the following dates:
Thursday, February 28, JONATHAN GREEN, EDWARD MADDEN & CHARLENE SPEAREN, Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Nearly 30 writers respond to Green’s depiction of his quest toward induction into a spiritual community.
Thursday, March 21, W. ERIC EMERSON, A Confederate Englishman: The Civil War Letters of Henry Wemyss Feilden. The letters chart the eventful career of the British officer turned Confederate captain from the time he arrives in South Carolina.
Thursday, April 18, SUSAN TEKULVE, In the Garden of Stone, The saga of Sicilian immigrants in the coal mines of Appalachia. In the Garden of Stone is harrowing and beautifully told. Winner of the SC First Novel prize.
Thursday, May 16, AÏDA ROGERS, CINDI BOITER, CEILLE BAIRD WELCH & BILLY DEAL, State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love. This collection of essays offers a personal view of cherished destinations and the emotional connections they inspire.
Thursday, June 20, TOM POLAND & PHIL SAWYER, Save the Last Dance for Me: A Love Story of the Shag and the Society of Stranders. The iconic beach dance became an important part of coastal culture and social change.
Books will be available for purchase and autographing. All programs will take place from noon to 1pm at the SC State Library located at 1500 Senate St., Columbia. Speaker @ the Center is FREE and open to the public. Bring your lunch and enjoy learning more about South Carolina.
The South Carolina Center for the Book is the South Carolina Affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is a cooperative project of the South Carolina State Library, the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science, and The Humanities CouncilSC.
By Abby Davis
“Once upon a time…happily ever after” fairytale romances rarely occur in real life. There are always complications; life is not perfect. She’s Gone seems to be driving these points home. This novel starts out seeming like perhaps the main characters, Kofi and Keisha, will fall in love and everything will go perfectly. After delving a bit farther into the book, however, the audience realizes that this will not at all be the case. Their romance, which seems to be a parallel for life as a whole, is tumultuous and wrought with deceit, heartache, miscommunication, and tragedy.
This absurd love story is far from typical, and so is the writing style. The author, Kwame Dawes, tells this cross-cultural romance beautifully. His words leap from the page to form images of both South Carolina and Jamaica, the two main settings of the novel. His sentences mesh together rhythmically and some passages read like song lyrics. It is no surprise that Dawes also writes poetry and was Distinguished Poet in Residence at the University of South Carolina where he taught from 1992-2012.
Dawes lived in Ghana, Jamaica, and South Carolina and all three of these places are featured in his novel. The story includes some background in Ghana, but primarily takes place in Jamaica and South Carolina. Kofi and Keisha meet in Columbia, South Carolina where Keisha was working for the University of South Carolina. Their romance later takes them to Jamaica where Dawes brilliantly captures the Jamaican dialect in his writing as well as the nation’s vibrant culture.
Differences between cultures, skin colors, and countries are a central topic in the novel and South Carolina and Jamaica are often compared and contrasted. Some of these differences prove to be part of the many problems with Kofi and Keisha’s relationship. Their romance is far from perfect; Dawes presents many harsh truths of the world and the story can be very heavy, intense, and vulgar. His magical writing and the incredible insight he provides into different cultures, however, make it well worth the read.
Please join the Center in welcoming Abby Davis as a guest blogger! Abby is a freshman at USC and is majoring in comparative literature and philosophy. Abby is from Kinston, North Carolina.
Her favorite books are Anna Karenina and A Thousand Splendid Suns, but she thoroughly enjoys all genres. In addition to reading, she enjoys sailing and playing with her dog, Chloe. Abby will be reviewing and blogging about South Carolina books and authors in the coming months.
Application Deadline: February 5, 2013
The Big Read is accepting applications from non-profit organizations to develop community-wide reading programs between September 2013 and June 2014. The Big Read is a national program designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
Organizations selected to participate in The Big Read receive a grant, educational and promotional materials, and access to online training resources and opportunities. Approximately 75 organizations from across the country will be selected.
We are proud to announce three new titles to The Big Read:
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
True Grit by Charles Portis
Into the Beautiful North by Luís Alberto Urrea
Visit http://www.NEABigRead.org/application_process.php for more information.
Questions? Call Arts Midwest at 612.238.8010 or email TheBigRead@artsmidwest.org
by Taylor Cheney
The age-old idiom “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” could not be more true for Tom Feelings’ I Saw Your Face. This cliche reasoning is not because the book’s binding is misleading, or unpleasant to the eye in any way. It is because that while the story may look like it belongs in a library’s young adult section or stacked upon a little boy or girl’s bookshelf, the pages reveal a mature subject and a poetic depth that does not often characterize children’s literature.
The short story goes beyond the text to possess a narration all its own. While the story is about Feelings’ African heritage and his journeys and the faces he came across around the world, the text itself was written by his friend and colleague, Kwame Dawes. The Jamaican native has been an influential writer, poet and musician, including a cherished former English professor at the University of South Carolina. In the introduction to I Saw Your Face, Dawes explains the birth of the story and how the text was an emotional response to Feelings’ illustrations, who was also a former art professor at the University of South Carolina. Their sensational bond is unavoidable and is a “lasting testament to Tom’s kindness and visionary force.”
Each page carries a different face and expression following a story of survival, identity, and the quest for familiarity. Dawes writes that in all his travels, he always has this “peculiar sense of seeing faces that look so familiar” even though there is no way he could have before. From Suriname, to New Orleans, Mombasa, Savannah – these faces follow the writer that look the same but have their own defining characteristics about them. These are the faces of Dawes’ and Feelings’ culture, “full of ancient stories and dreams,” that do not haunt them, but instead exist as reminders that no matter where we go, our origins never leave us.
As part of the South Carolina State Library’s remodeling efforts, our web server will be periodically unavailable until Friday, December 14. The websites affected include our main website, DISCUS, WorkSC, StudySC, ReadSC, and DayByDaySC.
Outages are not planned to last longer than a few minutes at a time. If you find any of our sites offline, please try visiting again in a few minutes. We apologize for any inconvenience this will cause. Thank you for your patience.
With only 26 letters in the English alphabet, it is difficult to highlight all of South Carolina’s symbolic staples. However, author Carol Crane manages to pinpoint the state’s flora, fauna, and fascinating culture in these short boundaries in P is for Palmetto: A South Carolina Alphabet.
Crane cleverly presents a new identity that relates to the history of the Palmetto State with each letter. In doing so, Crane travels all over the state, ranging from Myrtle Beach’s Grand Strand (for G) to the Upcountry (for U) while also providing a brief insight to its significance. As if the intricate watercolor illustrations don’t do enough (done by Mary Whyte) the book’s pages read like postcards – something you would want to share with a friend to show South Carolina’s lush history and landscape. “P is for Palmetto, our official state tree,” she writes, “It’s also a symbol on our flag, respected by you and me.”
In addition to P is for Palmetto, Crane is also the author of 21 other children’s stories, including P is for Peach: A Georgia Alphabet and S is for Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet. The book is contagiously fun to read, especially for young readers who will be anxious to learn what the next letter will represent (if they are not too distracted by the beautiful artwork). In addition, the story also leaves the reader with ‘A Path Full of Facts’ with questions and answers about South Carolina that you can learn throughout the book.
Crane’s work has the ability to function as both a favorite bedtime story and a descriptive (and more entertaining) history book. In fact, it may even teach a thing or two to a parent or teacher reading this!
by Taylor Cheney
Growing up, young girls are programmed to desire any type of hair they don’t already possess – literally, any. No matter how straight, free from frizz, or glossy a girl’s hair is, she will always convince herself that the curly, wavier, more voluminous roots would look better atop her little head. Nonetheless, there are numerous ways to surrender to this childish appetite, but Dinah Johnson suggests otherwise.
In her children’s book, Hair Dance!, Johnson writes passages teaching young girls, specifically African American, to embrace their beauty and their hair. Her book flawlessly includes brief and encouraging messages to growing women, complete with actual photographs taken by the illustrator, Kelly Johnson (no relation), of young girls and their different approaches to their favorite hair style. The short narration perfectly describes how deeply hair is interwoven within a girl’s personality,which at a young age, is one of the most important things to learn.
Johnson, an English professor at the University of South Carolina, gives descriptions of the various hair styles which have become so innately enveloped into their society. Johnson writes “strong hair growing into dreadlocks (caring hands make them love locks)” or to let one’s roots take their own form in their “nature hair, real hair, flower power strong hair.”
At the end of the book, Johnson leaves a powerful writer’s note explaining that “our culture values beauty and improvisation in every realm of life, and hair is no exception.” She encourages everyone to “work with it, play with it, style it, and treasure it as the Art that it is.”
Hair Dance! is one of the rare stories that teaches women of any race, ethnicity, age, to know who you are and revel in it – there’s more to life than just lather, rinse, repeat.
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