Epic in scope and intimate in theme with, according to the Los Angeles Times, “a blue-green, underwater feel, a timeless forgetfulness,” Michael Parker’s The Watery Part of the World weaves from minor scraps of history an entirely unique tapestry of a story.
The Watery Part of the World is a novel born from two facts: (1) Theodosia Burr Alston, daughter of infamous vice president Aaron Burr, disappeared in 1813 during a schooner trip between South Carolina and New York; and (2) in 1970, two elderly white women and one black man were the last townspeople to leave a small barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. From there, Michael Parker creates a conversation between two unexpectedly tethered generations and a love letter to a tiny island on the North Carolina outer banks, overrun with mosquitoes, battered by storms, easily flooded, and as difficult to get to as it is to leave. This tempestuous part of the sea gives birth to a hundred-year-long story of love and devotion, treason and treasures, and the sometimes painful bonds of community, family and history.
“Imaginative yet plausible reconstruction… Parker’s prose, vivid with local color, is the strongest aspect of this novel… The Watery Part of the World is expert at conveying a sense of people and place.”—New York Times Book Review
“Parker slices open each isolated life with humor and gentleness, and the familiar battles with loss and loneliness he chronicles make even this remotest of locations feel close to home.”—People, 4-star review
“A lush feat of historical speculation…a vivid tale about the tenacity of habit and the odd relationships that form in very small, difficult places.” –The Washington Post
Michael Parker is the author of four previous novels and two books of short stories. Winner of the Hobson Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Letter and the North Carolina Award for Literature, he is a professor in the MFA writing program at the University of North Carolina and Greensboro.