Arts Literature

Book Feature: Even As We Breathe

Author: Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle’s debut novel, Even As We Breathe, examines the 1942 worlds of Grove Park Inn and the Qualla Boundary through the experiences
of the book’s main character, a young Cherokee man. The story finds Cowney Sequoya working at Grove Park during a time when the inn held Axis diplomats and their families as prisoners of war during WWII. “When I learned of this history, Iimmediately found it intriguing how dynamics of identity and class must have played out in interesting ways,” Clapsaddle says. “The setting was a catalyst for a deeper discussion of these questions.”

The novel is the first to be published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. As such, Clapsaddle says, it was important to create a bridge of understanding between the expectations by readers without first-hand knowledge of the Eastern Band and the realities of the place and its people. “I hope that most readers will reconsider the labels we so readily accept and question how we determine who belongs and when and what relationships we give validity to and which ones we do not,” she says. “I hope [the story] helps readers to actively question our own motives as human beings making our way through this life.”

Even As We Breathe, September, 2020, fiction, hardcover, $24.95, by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, and published by The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Books are available at regional bookstores, including City Lights Bookstore in Sylva and Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. Learn more at ASaunookeClapsaddle.com.

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