Lee’s new novel, Guests on Earth was published in October, 2013 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

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Guests On Earth

Guests on Earth is set at Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, N.C., during the years 1936-1948, the year of the terrible fire in which Zelda Fitzgerald perished along with eight other women patients in a locked ward on the top floor. Her body was identified only by her charred ballet slipper---for the brilliant Zelda was still a talented dancer and choreographer as well as a writer and a visual artist.

In this novel I offer a solution for the unsolved mystery of that fire, along with a group of characters both imagined and real, and a series of events leading up to the tragedy. My narrator is a younger patient named Evalina Toussaint, daughter of a New Orleans exotic dancer. Evalina is a talented pianist who connects to Zelda on many levels as she plays accompaniment for the many concerts, theatricals, and dances constantly being held at Highland Hospital.

As Evalina tells us at the beginning of this novel, “I bring a certain insight and new information to that horrific event which changed all our lives forever, those of us living there upon that mountain at that time. This is not my story, then, in the sense that Mr. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was not Nick Carraway’s story, either---yet Nick Carraway is the narrator, is he not? And is any story not always the narrator’s story, in the end?”

Order your copy of Guests on Earth...

Read "In Her Words," Lee Smith's essay about Guests on Earth..

In this mini-documentary Lee Smith talks about how Guests on Earth has been "waiting for me to write."

Watch the NC Now episode featuring Lee Smith's interview with D. G. Martin, host of UNC-TV's “North Carolina Bookwatch:”