Scribe (Hagy)

Alyson Hagy, 2018
Graywolf Press
176 pp.

A haunting, evocative tale about the power of storytelling

A brutal civil war has ravaged the country, and contagious fevers have decimated the population. Abandoned farmhouses litter the isolated mountain valleys and shady hollows. The economy has been reduced to barter and trade.

In this craggy, unwelcoming world, the central character of Scribe ekes out a lonely living on the family farmstead where she was raised and where her sister met an untimely end.

She lets a migrant group known as the Uninvited set up temporary camps on her land, and maintains an uneasy peace with her cagey neighbors and the local enforcer.

She has learned how to make paper and ink, and she has become known for her letter-writing skills, which she exchanges for tobacco, firewood, and other scarce resources.

An unusual request for a letter from a man with hidden motivations unleashes the ghosts of her troubled past and sets off a series of increasingly calamitous events that culminate in a harrowing journey to a crossroads.

Drawing on traditional folktales and the history and culture of Appalachia, Alyson Hagy has crafted a gripping, swiftly plotted novel that touches on pressing issues of our time—migration, pandemic disease, the rise of authoritarianism—and makes a compelling case for the power of stories to both show us the world and transform it. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1959-60
Raised—Franklin County, Virginia, USA
Education—B.A., Williams College; M.F.A., University of Michigan
Currently—lives in Laramie, Wyoming

Alyson Hagy is an American author of short fiction and novels. She grew up on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is a graduate of Williams College where she twice won the Benjamin Wainwright Prize for her fiction. She completed her Honors thesis under the direction of Richard Ford.

Hagy went on to earn her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan working with George Garrett, Alan Cheuse, and Janet Kauffman. While at Michigan, she was awarded a Hopwood Prize in Short Fiction and a Roy Cowden Fellowship. Early stories were published in Sewanee Review, Crescent Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. In 1986, Stuart Wright published her first collection of fiction, Madonna On Her Back.

Hagy taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, and the Stonecoast Writers Conference before moving to the Rocky Mountains and joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming in 1996. 

She is the author of eight works of fiction, including Hardware River (1991), Keeneland (2000), Graveyard of the Atlantic (2000), Snow, Ashes (2007), Ghosts of Wyoming (2010), Boleto ( 2012), and Scribe (2018).

Awards and recognition
Hagy has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. Her work has won a Pushcart Prize, the Nelson Algren Prize, the High Plains Book Award, the Devil’s Kitchen Award, the Syndicated Fiction Award, and been included in Best American Short Stories. Recent fiction has appeared in Drunken Boat, The Idaho Review, Kenyon Review, INCH, and Michigan Quarterly Review.

HGY'S Abiding interests and transgressions include hiking, fishing, tennis, cohabitating with Labrador Retrievers, college athletics, and making artist’s books. She lives in Laramie, Wyoming with her husband Robert Southard. They have one son, Connor (Adapted from the author's website. Retrieved 11/26/2018.)

Book Reviews
Scribe, which begins with the baying of hounds and ends with silence, reminds us on every page that humans remain the storytelling animal, and that therein might lie our salvation.… In this brave new world, a woman with a pen may prove mightier than a man with a sword.
Lydia Peele - New York Times Book Review

setting, identity and motivations are shrouded in Blue Ridge mist, Hagy’s language is intense and crisp.… Hagy does a splendid job of intertwining the strange threads in her novel, and readers with a taste for magical doings will not be disappointed.
Minneapolis Star Tribune

An original addition to the post-apocalyptic genre, Scribe reaffirms the power of the pen and the surviving quality of the human spirit.
Arkansas International

It’s a hungry book—one where every sentence seems to imply a second that it never offers; where every page and every paragraph offers the ghost of a feast, but never lets you eat.

Fans of Fiona Mozley’s Elmet will revel in this genre-busting feminist folktale of a novel, which is as rooted in its own particular, peculiar time as it is relevant to the concerns of 2018.
Vanity Fair

[An] eerie, artfully etched post-apocalyptic tale.
BBC Culture

Hagy probes the weight of responsibility and the desperation of survival in a deteriorated society in this evocative, opaque tale.… The vagueness of setting, supernatural elements, and only partially revealed histories amp up the eeriness of this disquieting novel.
Publishers Weekly

[A] postapocalyptic world.… [I]s this the Civil War unfolding or a future cataclysm that resembles it?… More epic prose poem than sf, this [is a] slender, affecting meditation on grief and death, with a flavoring of Appalachian folklore stirred in. —Reba Leiding, emeritus, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA
Library Journal

(Starred review) [S]et in a world ravaged first by civil war and then by fever.… Taut and tense, with both a dreamlike quality and a strong sense of place, Hagy’s brief but powerful tale will indelibly haunt readers long after the final page is turned. — Kristine Huntley

(Starred review) A slim and affecting powerhouse.… Hagy is a careful writer; each sentence feels as solid and sturdy as stone.… Timely and timeless; a deft novel about the consequences and resilience of storytelling.
Kirkus Reviews

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