Dr. Sherry Robinson to Present Novel at the Main Library

March 30, 2010

Seven women. One house. Two centuries.

“My Secrets Cry Aloud,” a new novel by Sherry Robinson, professor of English and special assistant to the provost for policy and governance, tells the story of how the women’s journal entries bind them together through history, experience and life.

Robinson will discuss her work in a special presentation at the University’s Crabbe Library on Tuesday, March 30. The presentation, from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. in the Grand Reading Room, will be followed by a reception and book signing. The public is welcome.

The idea for the novel, Robinson explained, dates back to a time in her Lexington youth when she babysat for a family in their old home. Then, in her early twenties, Robinson wrote, by her own admission, a “very bad” novel that centered on the early history of her hometown.

Her new novel, also set in Lexington, “marries” the childhood experience with her first literary effort.

“We are all products in some way of the people who came before us, whether we knew them or not,” Robinson said, “but while our past shapes us, we do not have to be bound by it.”

“Secrets” has drawn raves from two leading literary lights of Appalachia, Silas House, author of “Clay’s Quilt” and other novels, and Lee Smith, author of “Fair and Tender Ladies,” among other works.

“Here,” said House, “is a beautifully written novel filled with wisdom and keen insights in a calm, clear voice, and a book that you will carry with you long after you’ve finished it.”

Smith said Robinson “has the ability to go right to the heart of things: a family, a relationship, a personality … she does not gloss over or neglect the real complexity of life.”

The characters in Robinson’s 234-page novel include a former slave, a young law student, a homemaker in search of her identity, a teenager struggling with abandonment and a woman surviving divorce. While the characters are not modeled after people the author knew, readers have often told Robinson the book’s stories remind them of people in their own lives.

“It’s appropriate that my presentation falls during Women’s History Month,” Robinson said, “because this book looks at women’s lives through various points in American history and shows how those time periods shaped their lives.”

The book is available at the University Bookstore, Hastings, and major online booksellers, among other outlets.