Garry Craig Powell, associate professor of writing at the University of Central Arkansas, had his first book, “Stoning the Devil,” published recently and has scheduled several readings and book-signings in the coming weeks.
Powell’s fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, McSweeney’s, Nimrod, New Orleans Review and other literary magazines. He has been awarded fellowships by the Arkansas Arts Council and the Writers Colony at Dairy Hollow. He teaches creative writing at UCA.
The book, published by Skylight Press, is a novel-in-stories set in the United Arab Emirates. According to the news kit, Powell presents “a complex and contradictory set of Arab characters who are a far cry from fundamentalist stereotypes. He also gives women in the (Persian) Gulf a voice — as none are completely submissive.”
The UAE setting is “a country of paradoxes, of seediness and glamour, of desert grandeur and Disneyland vulgarity, where public executions and other barbaric customs are winked at by the western ex-pats who run the economy.”
The book follows Colin, a professor of literature, “not the ‘typical’ ex-pat, ignorant and interested only in pleasure and his stock portfolio, but a speaker of Arabic and an admirer of Arab culture — or is he?”
Powell, 57, said the various stories, all of which have been previously published in magazines, are designed as chapters; together they make up a novel.
“It’s not all autobiographical,” said Powell, an Englishman who taught in the UAE for eight years. “Certainly it was inspired by what I saw in the Emirates. Many are based on true stories, not everything I personally did, but human-interest stories in the news, rumors you heard.”
According to the news kit, Powell presents the Gulf “as a crucible in which people of different races and religions are forging a new humanity, in spite of the abysses between them.”
Copies are available on Amazon.com ($15.99 or $7.99 e-book), direct from Skylight Press, or at the various book-signings Powell has scheduled. His next book signing will be 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, at Hastings in Conway.
Later in the month, he will have a reading at Something Brewing in Conway.