New books from NC authors include help for widowed dads and history-inspired novels

Seven years ago, psychologist Justin Yopp and psychiatrist Donald Rosenstein, both with the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, started a support group for fathers widowed by cancer. The success of that first group led to a second group and now to a website for all widowed parents ( with videos and other resources.

It also led to a book, The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life,” published this month by Oxford University Press. Yopp and Rosenstein tell the stories of the men, their struggles and successes and the bond that developed as they met monthly for nearly four years.

The two doctors will be reading from the book at Triangle bookstores over the next several weeks. Their first reading is at 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. It will be followed by a reading at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham on Jan. 18 and Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill on Feb. 1.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will go back to the support program.

Novels with a past

Look for two other books in the next few months from local authors who also happen to have ties to Triangle universities.

First up is Minrose Gwin’s “Promise,” the spring “fiction focus” for William Morrow. The novel springs from a real event: a tornado that tore up Tupelo, Miss., on April 5, 1936, and killed more than 200 people. The official death toll did not count the people who lived in the town’s black neighborhoods. Gwin presents a fictionalized tale of two women – one black, one white – in the tornado’s aftermath.

Gwin, who grew up in Tupelo, is the author of “The Queen of Palmyra,” which was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award and of the nonfiction “Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement.” She is the Kenan Eminent Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

April brings “Swimming Between Worlds” by Elaine Neal Orr, a professor of English at N.C. State University.

Orr was inspired by memories of growing up in Winston-Salem and Nigeria, where her parents were missionaries. The novel tells the story of three people – a former high school football star, a young woman whose parents have recently died and a young African-American. Their stories all converge as Winston-Salem is pulled into the 1960s civil rights struggle.

Orr’s other books include “A Different Sun” and the memoir “Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life.”

Other books coming this spring:

▪ “Varina” from Charles Frazier (“Cold Mountain”). It’s based on the life of Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis, after the Civil War. On sale April 3.

▪ “Gods of Howl Mountain” by Taylor Brown, whose 2017 novel “The River of Kings” was a finalist for the Southern Book Prize. Brown, who lives in Wilmington, has set this novel in 1950s in the N.C. mountains. It includes whiskey-running, snake handling, stock car racing and a folk-healing grandmother. On sale March 20.

Mary Cornatzer: 919-829-4755, @mcornatzer