For her sixth novel, “Washed in the Blood,” Kingsport, Tenn.-raised author Lisa Alther explores Melungeon heritage in a multi-generational saga.
Microsoft Word spellcheck does not recognize the word, “Melungeon,” but to people in Appalachia, it reaches deep into interracial history.
Building from “Kinflicks,” her much-celebrated first novel, Alther dives into what had preceded the rise and fall of her industrialist father and socialite mother. Years of research enliven the stories of three men from three eras—Spanish colonialization, the Trail of Tears, and the 1920s eugenics campaign—with bloodlines at times unwittingly intermixing.
Alther combines sharp wit, poetic tone, and storytelling realism.
“There’s a lot I love about the South. It’s probably the strongest influence on me,” Alther says. “It’s where I learned to speak, so that accent is my native tongue. In that sense, I’m a Southern writer.”
See Lisa Alther website, many great features, including audio and video,