Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan
Bob Morgan is a scintillating conversationalist, adept at making fascinating connections - a thoughtful man with a quick-witted sense of humor. He is one of the most distinguished authors to come from Appalachia in this era. The American Academy of Arts and Letters bestowed one of their Academy Awards in Literature upon him in 2007. Morgan’s life was transformed when a bookmobile started coming to a church within walking distance of the Green River Valley farm in North Carolina where he grew up in a family without a car. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill and then studied under Fred Chapell to receive his MFA from UNC-Greensboro. In 1969 the first of his sixteen poetry collections, Zirconia Poems, was published. He began teaching at Cornell University in 1971. After twenty years of publishing only poetry, in 1989 the first of his three story collections, The Blue Valleys, was released. Ten years later, in 1999, the first of his six novels, Gap Creek appeared.. It was an Oprah Book Club selection and a New York Times best-seller. In 2007 his first of two nonfiction books. Boone, appeared. Chasing the North Star received the Southern Book Award in the historical fiction category. Set in 1851, it tells the story of a South Carolina slave, Jonah Williams who, on his eighteenth birthday, escapes from his South Carolina plantation seeking freedom by following the mountains to the north. Soon Angel, a female slave, begins following him. Kirkus Reviews summed it up: ‘A Powerful, gripping, and unrelenting tale of wilderness survival under the most dire of circumstances in the pursuit of freedom: another outstanding work of historical fiction from Morgan.” Charles Frazier called it “Brilliantly detailed, deeply satisfying, and ultimately hopeful.”
Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2016. 319 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.