Join us for a special luncheon with Susan Beckham Zurenda on Thursday, May 6th, at 12PM! We will be celebrating the new paperback release of her novel, Bells for Eli, a recipient of multiple awards, the most recent a finalist in the General Fiction category for the Foreword Indies Book Award. This event will feature a talk by the author in which she explores the history of “Cousin Culture,” especially in the Southern United States, in connection to first cousins Delia Green and Eli Winfield’s deep bond in this Southern literary novel. This is a ticket-only event including lunch with the author, a copy of the book, and time for the author to personally sign them at the end of the event!
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First cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960s and 70s. But Eli's tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him. Delia's vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence--the visible damage to his body gone--but underneath hides indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. It is Delia who has that responsibility, growing more challenging each year.
Bells for Eli is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.
"A stunning debut, BELLS FOR ELI establishes Susan Beckham Zurenda as one of the most exciting new voices in Southern fiction. In this tender, beautifully-rendered novel, the powerful connection between cousins Delia and Eli takes them on a journey fraught with longing, desire, and heartbreak. Through loss, Delia comes to understand that the bonds of love can never truly be broken."—Cassandra King Conroy, award-winning and New York Times best-selling author of five novels and the memoir Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy
Susan Beckham Zurenda taught English for thirty-three years and now works as a book publicist for Magic Time Literary Publicity. A recipient of several regional awards for her fiction, including The South Carolina Fiction Project, The Porter Fleming Literary Competition, and The Southern Writers Symposium, she has also published numerous stories and nonfiction pieces in literary journals. Zurenda lives in Spartanburg, South Carolina.