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In 2000, as Seth Anderson researches his family history, he discovers an unexpected story and "contained within it lies a larger story that might speak not just to Southern history but beyond it." In the late 1800s in rural Alabama, Melinda Anderson struggles to give birth to her tenth child, tended by Annie Mae, a part-Choctaw midwife. When the infant dies, just hours after birth, suspicion falls upon two women--Betsy, Annie Mae's daughter and the mixed-race mistress of Melinda's husband, Rafe; and Melinda herself, worn out by perpetual pregnancies and nurturing a dark anger toward her husband. Seeking to clear her own name and tarnish that of her enemy, Melinda enlists the help of a conjure woman who dabbles in dark magic--with tragic consequences. As Seth's search for his family's truth continues, he must come to terms with their failure in confronting their past and in his own culpability in that failure. Filled with haunts, new and old, Children of Dust is a novel about the relationship between two women allied against a violent man with secrets of his own, and it is also a complex look at race, violence, and the ways in which stories are passed down through generations.
Marlin Barton lives in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to Children of Dust, he's published two earlier novels and three story collections. Stories of his have been included in Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and he received the Truman Capote Prize for his short fiction. Barton teaches in a program for juvenile offenders called Writing Our Stories, and he also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Converse College.