NC Literary Hall of Fame



The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change by Rebecca McClanahan

Indiana University Press
$22.00, paperback / $17.99, e-book
ISBN: 978-0-253-00859-6 (paper) / 978-0-253-00867-1 (e-book)
March, 2013
Available from your local bookstore, the publisher, or

“…[A] magnificent book. The Tribal Knot is a loving portrait of a family across its generations”
—Lee Martin, From Our House and Turning Bones

“…[O]ne of the fullest reading experiences I have had in a very long time”
—Ann Hood, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief and The Knitting Circle

“…[A] brilliant revitalizing of the oldest narrative we know…”
—David Huddle, Nothing Can Make Me Do This and Blacksnake at the Family Reunion

“I have never seen the familial panorama captured as living knowledge in such a moving way.”
—Suzannah Lessard, The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family

Are we responsible for, and to, those forces that have formed us—our families, friends, and communities? Where do we leave off and others begin? In The Tribal Knot, Rebecca McClanahan looks for answers in the history of her family.

Poring over letters, artifacts, and documents that span more than a century, she discovers a tribe of hardscrabble Midwest farmers, hunters, trappers, and laborers struggling to hold tight to the ties that bind them, through poverty, war, political upheavals, illness and accident, filicide and suicide, economic depressions, personal crises, and global disasters. Like the practitioners of Victorian "hair art" who wove strands of family members' hair into a single design, McClanahan braids her ancestors' stories into a single intimate narrative of her search to understand herself and her place in the family's complex past.

Rebecca McClanahan, the author of nine previous books, including The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, winner of the Glasgow award in nonfiction, has received a Pushcart Prize, the Wood Prize from Poetry, and fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council.

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