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Crystal Wilkinson, author of The Birds of Opulence, to give reading

The Department of English and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a reading by author Crystal Wilkinson on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the WVU Downtown Library’s Milano Reading Room.

The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow.

About the book

The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson book cover

A lyrical exploration of love and loss, "The Birds of Opulence" centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness. The Goode-Brown family, led by matriarch and pillar of the community Minnie Mae, is plagued by old secrets and embarrassment over mental illness and illegitimacy. Meanwhile, single mother Francine Clark is haunted by her dead, lightning-struck husband and forced to fight against both the moral judgment of the community and her own rebellious daughter, Mona. The residents of Opulence struggle with vexing relationships to the land, to one another and to their own sexuality. As the members of the youngest generation watch their mothers and grandmothers pass away, they live with the fear of going mad themselves and must fight to survive. Author Crystal Wilkinson offers up Opulence and its people in lush, poetic detail. It is a world of magic, conjuring, signs and spells, but also of harsh realities that only love -- and love that's handed down -- can conquer. At once tragic and hopeful, this captivating novel is a story about another time, rendered for our own.

About the author

Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of “The Birds of Opulence” (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street” and “Blackberries, Blackberries.” Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from the Yaddo Foundation, The Vermont Studio Center for the Arts, The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the STORY, Agni Literary Journal, Oxford American and Southern Cultures. She teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is an associate professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program.