Blue Bicycle Books’ Author Luncheon Series continues, Friday, Mar. 18, 12 pm, Halls Chophouse, 434 King St., as author Michele Moore discusses her new novel The Cigar Factory (University of South Carolina Press, hb., $28).
About the book: The sun leaned for down bringing shade to the waterfront,” begins Michele Moore’s entrancing debut novel, hearkening back to an era when the legendary fishermen of Charleston’s Mosquito Fleet rowed miles offshore for their daily catch. With evocative dialect and remarkable prose, The Cigar Factory tells the story of two entwined families, both devoutly Catholic — the white McGonegals and the African American Ravenels — in Charleston during the world wars. Moore’s novel follows the parallel lives of family matriarchs working on segregated floors of the massive Charleston cigar factory, where white and black workers remain divided and misinformed about the duties and treatment each group receives.
Cassie McGonegal and her niece Brigid work upstairs in the factory, rolling cigars by hand. Meliah Amey Ravenel works in the basement, where she stems the tobacco. While both white and black workers suffer in the harsh working conditions of the factory and both endure the sexual harassment of the foremen, segregation keeps them from recognizing their common plight until the Tobacco Workers Strike of 1945. Through the experience of a brutal picket line, two women come to realize how much they stand to gain by joining forces, creating a powerful moment in labor history that gives rise to the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
Moore’s extensive historical research included interviews with her own family members who worked at the cigar factory, adding a layer of nuance and authenticity to her empowering story of families and friendships forged through struggle, loss, and redemption. The Cigar Factory by Story River Books editor-at-large Pat Conroy.
About the Author:has served as a fellow in the English Department at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga. She was a 2006 finalist for the Bellwether Prize for Literature. Her creative nonfiction has been broadcast on Georgia Public Radio and published in the Louisville Review and others.
Buy tickets online here. For special requests call 843.303.1113. Doors open at 11:30 am (please do not arrive before 11:30) and lunch is served promptly at noon. Limited seating provides an intimate experience with the author.