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Novel tells story of slavery and redemption

Soul Catcher book cover

While reading Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Russell Banks’ Cloudsplitter — both plots center on slavery — Michael White hatched the idea for his fifth and latest novel, Soul Catcher (William Morrow, 2007).

Set in 1857, Soul Catcher is the story of Augustus Cain, a slave catcher entrusted with the task of hunting down Rosetta, a fugitive slave bearing scars from an unforgiving master. He captures her, and during an adventure-filled journey, Cain slowly begins to understand that Rosetta’s worth is more than as a piece of property. This realization helps to form the basis for Cain’s own redemption.

“I like to write about characters who are missing something in their lives or who have failed in some way — psychically, emotionally, morally,” says White (PhD English ’82). “Cain’s metamorphosis from unredeemed slave catcher to a man who questions the very nature of the country’s ‘peculiar institution’ prior to the Civil War is a metaphor for any person of any time period whose fundamental values are in need of change.”

A New York Times “notable author,” White has incorporated historical aspects in other works. His first novel, A Brother’s Blood, tells the story of a woman hoping to unravel the mystery of her brother’s death. The Garden of Martyrs recounts actual events of religious intolerance in early Boston.

In addition to writing, White directs Fairfield University’s creative writing MFA program.

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