JOIN NOW > CONTRIBUTE >

GET OUR UPDATES

Dawson's Fall

 

Robinson uses lynchings, duels, and sexual assaults to shed light on populism and toxic masculinity . . . A stylish and contemplative . . . novel, considerate of facts but not burdened by them.” 


-Kirkus Reviews

Roxana Robinson and Jacki Lyden

Tuesday May 14, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

BUY $10 TICKET >>

Grants entry for 1 plus $10 voucher towards any purchase at our bookstore.

Roxana Robinson was in conversation with award-winning journalist and long-time NPR reporter and host, Jacki Lyden. 

 

In Dawson’s Fall, a novel based on the lives of Roxana Robinson’s great-grandparents, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape.

 

Dawson, a man of fierce opinions, came to this country as a young Englishman to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, finding a platform of real influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his staunch principles: equal rights, rule of law, and nonviolence, unswayed by the caprices of popular opinion. But he couldn’t control the political whims of his readers. As he wrangled diligently in his columns with questions of citizenship, equality, justice, and slavery, his newspaper rapidly lost readership, and he was plagued by financial worries. Nor could Dawson control the whims of the heart: his Swiss governess became embroiled in a tense affair with a drunkard doctor, which threatened to stain his family’s reputation. In the end, Dawson—a man in many ways representative of the country at this time—was felled by the very violence he vehemently opposed.

 


 

Photo by Beowulf SheehanRoxana Robinson is the author of Dawson's Fall and five previous novels, including Sparta and Cost; three collections of short stories; and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BookForum, Best American Short Stories, Tin House and elsewhere. She teaches in the Hunter MFA Program and divides her time between New York, Connecticut, and Maine. She has received fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation and serves on the Board of Directors of the Authors’ Guild.

 

Jacki Lyden is an award-winning journalist for NPR, where she has served as host and correspondent for over thirty years. She is passionate about the intersection between mental health and caregiving. In 1997, Jacki published Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, a critically-acclaimed memoir which chronicles her life growing up in the presence of her mother’s profound mental illness. She is a 2017-2018 recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and early in her career, she won the Grand Prize from the National Mental Health Foundation for a series on the incarceration of the mentally ill in Montana.