Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST November 14, 2023
The Center for Fiction
The Ticket/Voucher option includes a $10 Bookstore voucher, redeemable toward the featured event book on the night of the event.
The Center for Fiction is thrilled to welcome Katherine Vaz to celebrate her latest novel. Above the Salt follows two Portuguese refugees fleeing political violence who reunite in mid-nineteenth-century Illinois, on the cusp of the Civil War. The star-crossed lovers are torn between love and duty, their story unfolding at the site of Abraham Lincoln’s home. Join us for a lively presentation from Vaz on the research she conducted for the historical novel, maintaining momentum on a writing project that took eighteen years to complete, and her career at the forefront of the Portuguese-American literary landscape. Her presentation will be followed by an extended audience Q&A.
Katherine Vaz, a former Briggs-Copeland fellow in fiction at Harvard University and a fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, is the author of the novels Saudade, on the Discover Great New Writers list with Barnes & Noble, and Mariana, in six languages and optioned by Harrison Productions. Her collection Fado & Other Stories won a Drue Heinz Literature Prize, and Our Lady of the Artichokes & Other Portuguese-American Stories received a Prairie Schooner Book Award. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of magazines, including Tin House, BOMB, Antioch Review, Iowa Review, the Common, Narrative, Ninth Letter, and Glimmer Train. She is the first Portuguese American to have her work recorded for the Archives of the Library of Congress (Hispanic division).
Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan
Above the Salt
By Katherine Vaz
Published by Flatiron Books / Macmillan
John Alves, son of a famous Presbyterian martyr on the Portuguese island of Madeira, spends his childhood in jail and in poverty. When he meets Mary Freitas—though the adopted daughter of a master botanist, her true lineage is the subject of dangerous rumor—a spark kindles a lasting bond. But soon their families must confront the rising blood tide of warfare between Catholics and Protestants. Fleeing with only what they can carry, John and Mary are separated and arrive at different times and places in a rapidly growing and changing mid-nineteenth century Illinois.
Years later, John settles into his life as an educator at Jacksonville’s nationally renowned School for the Deaf, and Mary is a gardener in Springfield for handsome, wealthy Edward Moore. After John and Mary reconnect, the home of rising politician Abraham Lincoln provides a prime setting for their courtship. But conflict looms on the horizon, and John is torn. Should he join the Union Army to prove his loyalty to his new country, or should he stay to fight for the chance to make a life with the one he loves?
And should Mary accept Edward’s marriage proposal, since he is a partner in her business of selling the miracle-berry fruit she transported from Madeira, or should she choose her passion for John? Social jealousies and betrayals compound the obstacles unleashed by the Civil War.
In poignant and lyrical prose, Katherine Vaz’s Above the Salt is a captivating and beautiful tribute to the power of true love and the sacrifices we make to harness it.