The Columns

“Truevine” Author Beth Macy to Speak

— by on October 18th, 2016

“Beth Macy is southwest Virginia’s premiere nonfiction storyteller”
~ Journalism Prof. Doug Cumming

Author Beth MacyAuthor Beth Macy

Beth Macy, author and winner of more than a dozen journalism awards, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Nov. 9 as the Fishback Visiting Writer. Her talk will begin at 5 p.m. in Stackhouse Theater, Elrod Commons.

Macy will speak on “Reporting From the Margins: 30 Years of Covering Exploitation, Greed and Race.” Her talk is free and open to the public and a book signing will follow.

Her visit is sponsored by the Fishback Visiting Writer and the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Macy’s newest book is “Truevine: A Strange and Troubling Tale of Two Brothers in Jim Crow America.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gilbert King hailed the book as “unforgettable,” and poet Nikki Giovanni described it as a “stirring story of a mother’s journey to reclaim not only her sons but her right to them.”

Macy is also the author of the Lukas Prize-winning “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town” (2014). It was an instant New York Times bestseller. New York Times critic Janet Maslin called the nonfiction narrative “an illuminating, deeply patriotic David vs. Goliath book.”

“Factory Man” was named a New York Times Noteable book for 2014, and was also the Southern Independent Booksellers Association’s top nonfiction pick. HBO, working in tandem with Tom Hanks’s production company Playtone, is in development to produce a four-hour miniseries based on the book.

“Beth Macy is southwest Virginia’s premiere nonfiction storyteller,” said Doug Cumming, associate professor in journalism and mass communications at W&L.

"Truevine" A Novel by Beth Macy“Truevine” A Novel by Beth Macy

“With an ear, heart and poet’s gift for intimate journalism, she chose to stay at the Roanoke Times for almost her entire career, until the call of book-length masterpieces finally took hold. She remains in Roanoke, and finds her stories here in our part of the world.”

Macy has been published in Oprah magazine, Parade, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newyorker.com, Salon and Christian Science Monitor. For two decades, she was the families beat reporter at The Roanoke Times, where many of her longer pieces originated.

Macy, who has long specialized in outsiders and underdogs, has won awards including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard in 2010 and two Casey medals for coverage of children and families.

Macy’s approach to storytelling is “Report from the ground up, establish trust, be patient, find stories that tap into universal truths. Eat the posole. Get out of your ZIP code. To do good work, be a human first.”

Each year, the Fishback Visiting Writers program, funded by Sara and William H. Fishback Jr. ’56, brings to campus someone who has written with distinction on public affairs, nature and the environment, history or the theater. The Fishback visitor spends time with W&L students in the classroom and delivers a lecture to the local community. Since 1996, it has brought such speakers as Diane McWhorter, Cornel West, Ray Suarez and Jane Meyer.