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Recent publications by members of the University of Utah community

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       Devery Scott Anderson BA’97 has published Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement (University Press of Mississippi, August 2015).
       The book, which includes a forward by the late Julian Bond, offers the first comprehensive account of the 1955 murder of the 14-year-old Till and its aftermath. An African American boy from Chicago, Till was lynched for a harmless flirtation at a country store in the Mississippi Delta. His death and the acquittal of his killers by an all-white jury set off a firestorm of protests that reverberated all over the world and spurred the civil rights movement. Like no other event in modern history, the death of Emmett Till provoked people throughout the United States to seek social change.
       For six decades the Till story has continued to haunt the South as the lingering injustice of Till’s murder and the aftermath altered many lives. Fifty years after the murder, renewed interest in the case led the U.S. Justice Department to open an investigation into identifying and possibly prosecuting accomplices of the two men originally tried. Between 2004 and 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the first real probe into the killing and turned up important information that had been lost for decades.
       Anderson made a dozen trips to Mississippi and Chicago to conduct research and interview witnesses and reporters who covered the trial, and his research resulted in a wealth of new evidence. His account corrects the historical record and presents this critical saga in its entirety. This book will stand as the definitive work on Emmett Till for years to come. 
       Anderson, who lives in Salt Lake City, is an editor at Signature Books. He has authored or coauthored several books on Mormon history, two of which won the Steven F. Christensen Award for Best Documentary from the Mormon History Association. He holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the University of Utah.


       Lawrence Coates PhD’97, a professor of creative writing at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University and an award-winning author, has published Camp Olvido (Miami University Press, October 2015). 
      
In the book, Coates paints a sensual and humane picture of life and death in a depression-era work camp peopled by Latino field workers, showing not only the sorrow of endemic poverty and powerlessness, but also the love and good humor of a community that can endure. In the California heart land in 1932, at a migrant labor camp whose very name means “forgotten,” a child's sudden illness leads to tensions between workers wishing to break camp and the land barons enforcing their contracts. Into this dispute, Esteban Alas—contrabandista and self-styled businessman—is reluctantly drawn as a mediator, until an act of violence forces him into a more tragic role.
      
The novella is an exploration of one man’s bold actions and their consequences, and shows the dark side of California's prosperity, with violence and, unexpectedly, elements of the divine. 
       
Coates has received many honors, including the Miami University Press Novella Prize, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, the Nancy Dasher Award, the Barthelme Prize for Short Prose, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Coates holds a doctorate in philosophy from the U’s College of Humanities. Camp Olvido is his fifth novel.


       Melanie Rae Thon, a professor of English at the U, has published Silence & Song (Fiction Collective, September 2015). 
       In the three stories in the collection, Thon addresses immigrants lost in the blistering expanse of the Sonoran Desert, problem bears, bats pollinating saguaros, a Good Samaritan filling tanks at emergency water stations, and the terrified runaway boy who shoots him—all through the mind of Rosana Derais.
       The first story in the trilogy, “Vanishings,” is a love letter, a prayer to these strangers whose lives penetrate and transform Rosana’s own sorrow. In “Translations,” the prose poem connecting the two longer fictions, child refugees at a multilingual literacy center in Salt Lake City discover the merciful “translation” of dance and pantomime. In the final piece, “requiem: home: and the rain, after,” the convergence of two disparate events—a random murder in Seattle and the nuclear accident at Chernobyl—catalyze in a startling, eruptive form.
       Thon is an award-winning writer whose works have been included in Best American Short Stories, three Pushcart Prize anthologies, and O. Henry Prize Stories. Among her many honors, she is a recipient of two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a writer’s residency from the Lannan Foundation. In 2009, she was the Virgil C. Aldrich fellow at the Tanner Humanities Center.
       
Originally from Montana, Thon now lives in Salt Lake City, where she teaches in the U’s Creative Writing and Environmental Humanities programs. Read more about her here.

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