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ReadWNC – Even As We Breathe

05/24/2022 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Introducing our ReadWNC series! Join the Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) for three virtual events. With authors and historians, we will explore the facts behind the fiction in these books centered in WNC. We encourage you to read the books in advance and bring your own questions to the discussion. You can find all three books at Malaprop’s Bookstore here in Asheville.

We will kick off its 2022 ReadWNC literary series with Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle’s book, Even As We Breathe, which received the association’s prestigious Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award in 2021.  Saunooke Clapsaddle and historian Dr. Barbara Duncan will discuss the fact behind the fictional depiction of mid-20th century Cherokee life and culture, the real-life detention of Axis diplomats and their families at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn during World War II, and other local historical tidbits that appear in the novel, including a visit from Charles “Ches” McCartney, also known as “The Goat Man” and memories of drinking Cheerwine soda.

Each event airs live via Zoom, Tuesday, May 24 from 6-7PM and will be recorded for later viewing. Register for individual events or for all three here at a discounted rate!

The series dates are:
Tuesday, May 24 from 6:00-7pm – Even as We Breathe
Tuesday, July 19 from 6:00-7pm – Guests on Earth
Tuesday, October 4 from 6:00-7pm – The Ballad of Frankie Silver

Dr. Catherine Frank, Chair of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award selection committee, says, “Even As We Breathe immerses us in a specific place and time, Asheville’s Grove Park Inn when it was being used to house Axis diplomats and their families in 1942, and in the Qualla Boundary where Cherokee traditions are deeply embedded but in conflict with an ever encroaching outside world. But the story of Cowney Sequoyah and Essie Stamper is also timeless and universal, exploring what it means to lose innocence and to find ‘who we are supposed to be.’ Most importantly, the book is beautifully written, with convincing, well-drawn characters and compelling imagery that tie the various stories together. This first novel by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians exemplifies the quality of the most compelling regional writing.”

About the Presenters:
Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and resides in Qualla, NC with her husband, Evan and sons Ross and Charlie. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her debut novel, Even As We Breathe, was released by the University Press of Kentucky in 2020, a finalist for the Weatherford Award and named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. In 2021, it received the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. Her first novel manuscript, Going to Water is winner of the Morning Star Award for Creative Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium (2012) and a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (2014). Clapsaddle’s work has appeared in Yes! Magazine, Lit Hub, Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, South Writ Large and The Atlantic. After serving as executive director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Annette returned to teaching at Swain County High School. She is the former co-editor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and serves on the board of trustees for the North Carolina Writers Network.

Dr. Barbara R. Duncan received her Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania.  She coordinated “Folk Arts in the Schools” in Macon County for several years, worked for The Foxfire Fund, and went on to spend twenty-three years at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, where she wrote grants, researched, wrote books, and coordinated festivals and community-based programs to revitalize Cherokee traditions.  Now retired from the Museum, Duncan teaches Cherokee language as Assistant Adjunct Professor at University of North Carolina Asheville.  With a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, she has created a new method for learning Cherokee language and authored a series of textbooks and a website at Duncan has written award-winning books about Cherokee history and culture, including Living Stories of the Cherokee, which received the Thomas Wolfe Literary Award and the World Storytelling Award; and The Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook (co-authored with Brett H. Riggs) which received the Presidential Preserve Freedom Award and the Willie Parker Peace Prize. Her most recent book is Cherokee Clothing in the 1700s, published by the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

Tickets: We hope you will register for the entire series, but individual event tickets are available as well. We also have two no-cost, community-funded tickets available per individual event.
—For this event only – $5 for WNCHA members/$10 for general admission
—For the entire series – $10 for WNCHA members/$20 for general admission

Note* For those registering for the entire series, you need only to register here once. You will be manually added to the upcoming events.

Register Here

For questions or more information email Trevor Freeman at


Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)