Two acclaimed writers--Anne Raeff and Minrose Gwin--talk about their work in conversation.
About Winter Kept Us Warm and Anne Raeff:
A bold &haunting novel that sets love against the brutality of WWII & post-war life from the author of The Jungle Around Us, Flannery O'Connor Award winner.
"Richly depicting emotional interiority of its characters, Raeff's novel reveals how the devastating effects of war and hidden secrets can impact lives across decades." --Publishers Weekly
Ulli is a young woman squatting in a dismal, empty Berlin apartment, one year after the war has ended. She's scraping together a living as an interpreter between American GIs and the wide-eyed local girls eager to meet them. One night, Ulli meets two soldiers who will change her life: Leo, handsome and ambitious and desperate to escape his small-town upbringing; and intellectual, asthmatic Isaac, whose refugee parents had fled Russia for New York.
Winter Kept Us Warm follows Ulli, Leo, and Isaac through the next six decades of their lives--from Berlin to postwar Manhattan, 1960s Los Angeles, and contemporary Morocco. A marriage. Two children. And yet only one parent. At the core of this novel is the mystery of how this came to be: a twisting narrative that explores the dark corners and lantern slides of these characters' lives, revealing in pieces and fragments what became of their long-ago love triangle set against the brutality of postwar living.
Winter Kept Us Warm is an evocative story of family, strained by the cruelty of war and its generational repercussions. A novel of the heart, filled to the brim with unforgettable characters stitching together the deep threads of love, friendship, loyalty, and, of course, loss.
ANNE RAEFF's short story collection, The Jungle Around Us, won the 2015 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. The collection was a finalist for the California Book Award and named one of the 100 Best Books of 2016 by San Francisco Chronicle. Her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica, among other places. She lives in San Francisco with her wife and two cats.
About PROMISE and Minrose Gwin:
In the aftermath of a devastating tornado that rips through the town of Tupelo, Mississippi, at the height of the Great Depression, two women worlds apart--one black, one white; one a great-grandmother, the other a teenager--fight for their families' survival in this lyrical and powerful novel
A few minutes after 9 p.m. on Palm Sunday, April 5, 1936, a massive funnel cloud flashing a giant fireball and roaring like a runaway train careened into the thriving cotton-mill town of Tupelo, Mississippi, killing more than 200 people, not counting an unknown number of black citizens, one-third of Tupelo's population, who were not included in the official casualty figures.
When the tornado hits, Dovey, a local laundress, is flung by the terrifying winds into a nearby lake. Bruised and nearly drowned, she makes her way across Tupelo to find her small family--her hardworking husband, Virgil, her clever sixteen-year-old granddaughter, Dreama, and Promise, Dreama's beautiful light-skinned three-month-old son.
Slowly navigating the broken streets of Tupelo, Dovey stops at the house of the despised McNabb family. Inside, she discovers that the tornado has spared no one, including Jo, the McNabbs' dutiful teenage daughter, who has suffered a terrible head wound. When Jo later discovers a baby in the wreckage, she is certain that she's found her baby brother, Tommy, and vows to protect him.
During the harrowing hours and days of the chaos that follows, Jo and Dovey will struggle to navigate a landscape of disaster and to battle both the demons and the history that link and haunt them. Drawing on historical events, Minrose Gwin beautifully imagines natural and human destruction in the deep South of the 1930s through the experiences of two remarkable women whose lives are indelibly connected by forces beyond their control. A story of loss, hope, despair, grit, courage, and race, Promise reminds us of the transformative power and promise that come from confronting our most troubled relations with one another.
Minrose Gwin is the author of The Queen of Palmyra. She has written three scholarly books, coedited The Literature of the American South, and teaches contemporary fiction at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.