Meet author Shawna Kay Rodenberg on Saturday, September 10 at 3 p.m. in conversation with Robert Gipe. She will be discussing her newest book, Kin, a "heart stopping memoir of a wrenching Appalachian girlhood and a multilayered portrait of a misrepresented people." There will also be a question and answer session after the discussion. Books will be available for purchase from Atlas Books and both authors will be signing purchased copies of their work. 10% of book sales from this event will go toward flood relief in Eastern Kentucky.
More about Kin:
When Shawna Kay Rodenberg was four, her father, fresh from a ruinous tour in Vietnam, spirited her family from their home in the hills of Eastern Kentucky to Minnesota, renouncing all of their earthly possessions to live in the Body, an off-the-grid End Times religious community. Her father was seeking a better, safer life for his family, but the austere communal living of prayer, bible study and strict regimentation was a bad fit for the precocious Shawna. Disciplined harshly for her many infractions, she was sexually abused by a predatory adult member of the community. Soon after the leader of the Body died and revelations of the sexual abuse came to light, her family returned to the same Kentucky mountains that their ancestors have called home for three hundred years. It is a community ravaged by the coal industry, but for all that, rich in humanity, beauty, and the complex knots of family love. Curious, resourceful, rebellious, Shawna ultimately leaves her mountain home but only as she masters a perilous balancing act between who she has been and who she will become.
Kin is a mesmerizing memoir of survival that seeks to understand and make peace with the people and places that were survived. It is above all about family-about the forgiveness and love within its bounds-and generations of Appalachians who have endured, harmed, and held each other through countless lifetimes of personal and regional tragedy.
Shawna Kay Rodenberg is the author of Kin, a debut memoir nominated for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing and deemed “essential reading” by the Washington Post and “gorgeously gritty” by Oprah Daily. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and her essays have appeared in Salon, the Village Voice, and Elle. In 2016, Shawna was awarded the Jean Ritchie Fellowship, and in 2017, she was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. A registered nurse, mother of five, and grandmother of two, she lives on a hobby goat farm in southern Indiana.
Robert Gipe won the 2015 Weatherford Award for outstanding Appalachian novel for his first novel Trampoline. His second novel, Weedeater, was published in 2018. His third novel, Pop, was published in 2021. All three novels are published by Ohio University Press. In 2021, the trilogy won the Judy Gaines Young Book Award. From 1997 to 2018, Gipe directed the Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College Appalachian Program in Harlan. Gipe is founding producer of the Higher Ground community performance series, and has served as a script consultant for the Hulu series Dopesick and a producer on the feature film The Evening Hour. Gipe resides in Harlan County, Kentucky. He grew up in Kingsport, Tennessee.