The New York Times Names UNC Charlotte Creative Writing Professor’s Novel A Best Book To Give This Year

With its portrayal of the difficulties of frontier life, The New York Times Book Review has just named “All God’s Children” by novelist and UNC Charlotte English Associate Professor Aaron Gwyn as one of The Best Books To Give This Year.

Gwyn’s novel is a powerful depiction of the rough realities of frontier life, of the vicious influence of racism in a place where “men who didn’t dare look at you in daylight might burn you alive come sundown,” ” the reviewer wrote.

A novel about remarkable people living on the edge of freedom and slavery, All God’s Children brings to life the paradoxes of the American frontier – a place of liberty and bondage, wild equality, and cruel injustice.

Mark West, UNC Charlotte in his popular blog Storied Charlotte wrote more about Gwyn’s book, in a column titled “Visiting the American West Via Charlotte.”

All God’s Children (Europa) came out in October and has earned extensive praise. Publishers Weekly described it as an overwhelmingly visceral and emotionally rich narrative set amid Texas’s complex path to statehood, that makes readers care deeply about the characters’ fates. “This is a masterpiece of western fiction in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy and James Carlos Blakepraising it for its portrayal of the American West,” the review said.

The reviewer for Lone Star Literary Life wrote, “All God’s Children is a stunner. In this beautifully written historical epic, westward expansion, race relations and the nation’s mythical place as ‘a shining city on a hill’ collide in an explosive, lyrical reckoning.”

Aaron Gwyn draws from his life experiences, including growing up on a cattle ranch, in his writing and teaching.

Gwyn was raised on a cattle ranch in rural Oklahoma. In addition to his new book, he is the author of a story collection, Dog on the Cross (finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award), and two other novels, The World Beneath (W.W. Norton), and Wynne’s War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). His short stories and creative nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, McSweeney’s, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, Gettysburg Review, and New Stories from the South.

At UNC Charlotte, Gwyn teaches fiction writing and American literature. He earned a doctoral degree from University of Denver, a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University, and a bachelor’s degree from East Central University.

Words: Lynn Roberson, CLAS Communications Director