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KIN: A Novel | Alan Graebner | ISBN 9781948509480 | $29.99 | 570p | Trade Paper

A bitter row with his father caused Henry Hollis to move north to ante-bellum New York. Years later he returns home to the rugged mountains of Tennessee on the North Carolina border, drawn by his father’s peace offering, an extensive but extremely remote tract in the highest reaches of the Quachasee watershed.

As Henry and his crew clear the land to build a new farm, word of his father’s collapse summons him down to Tulips, the Hollis homestead. Gathered around the patriarch’s deathbed, family members maneuver with unstated agenda as they urge Henry to take a cook for his crew back up to the Quachasee. They settle on Carrie, a young enslaved woman previously assigned as maid and companion to lame and deaf Audrey Ann, Henry’s closest sibling.

Henry accedes reluctantly, but at the Quachasee finds Carrie’s initiatives unexpectedly valuable for crew morale. Carrie discovers in her mountain residence, not exile, but an exhilarating sense of freedom.

It seems a happy congruence, a love story ready to unfold. Except the past intervenes, and the future disrupts. KIN chronicles a generation’s crucial decisions before and after the Civil War, and the impact on generations.


In a tumbling cascade of voices, some contradictory, some unreliable, and some expressed in eloquent hand language, KIN tells a tragic love story. Reaching back before the Civil War and across generations for the next hundred years, the novel is preoccupied with race as well as the central role that deafness plays in this absorbing narrative. As an extended meditation on how history is constructed and the hobbled ways in which we recover our past, KIN is a cornucopia pouring out its unpredictable riches to the surprising conclusion. An intelligent page-turner. Kathleen Diffley, Professor of English, University of Iowa, Author of The Fateful Lightning: Civil War Stories and the Magazine Marketplace, 1861-1876 and Where My Heart Is Turning Ever: Civil War Stories and Constitutional Reform, 1861-1876.

KIN is simply brilliant. In this work, Graebner delivers a stunningly original exploration of the complex stories of white and Black people of East Tennessee through Civil War, Reconstruction, and the turn of the 20th century. He searches for the meaning of history and the meaning of life. While he puzzles mysteries of historical memory, and of “history” itself, he refuses to answer them. He embraces uncertainty: how do we know what we think we know?  KIN is the best kind of historical fiction, well situated in the scholarly literature, and Graebner packs an emotional punch.Orville Vernon Burton,  Judge Matthew J. Perry Distinguished Chair of History  and Computer Science at Clemson University; Author of The Age of Lincoln; Coauthor of Justice Deferred: Race and the Supreme Court.

To learn more check out the author’s website here.

Raised in the Midwest, Alan Graebner headed east for graduate education, then taught American history for decades at the College of St. Catherine, a women’s college in Minnesota. Along the way his love of sailing mislead him into marina development, and an affinity for woodworking drew him into designing and building a half dozen houses, one on a remote island in Lake Superior, and another on an island in the Caribbean.