'Cold Mountain' author to speak at Gwinnett Reads

Nancy Stanbery-Kellam, executive director of the Gwinnett County Public Library and organizer of Gwinnett Reads, has a very important announcement to make.

"Once again," she said in an e-mail, "we have kept the bar raised high with Gwinnett Reads as we welcome best-selling author Charles Frazier to Gwinnett!"

Frazier, winner of the National Book Award 10 years ago for his "Odyssey"-esque Civil War opus "Cold Mountain" (later adapted into an equally lauded 2003 film of the same name, directed by the late Anthony Minghella), will be on hand for this year's festivities. He will answer questions and sign copies of his 2006 sophomore effort, "Thirteen Moons," the story of a white orphan wandering the wilderness who is taken in and raised by a Cherokee chief.

"Frazier's moving story describes the beauty, tragedy and passion of this culture's history," Stanbery-Kellam said.

She called the big-name booking (no pun intended) a "coup."

"While I am always impressed with what this staff can do," she wrote, "I am amazed and thrilled that they were able to get someone in as high demand as he is to come for our program."

The author, a North Carolina native, also served as the keynote speaker at the Decatur Book Festival last September. Like that appearance, he will be joined in Gwinnett by Myrtle Driver Johnson, a Native American interpreter who has translated "Moon" to Cherokee in its entirety.

Both the English and Cherokee editions of the novel will be on sale at the event, slated for 6:30 p.m. July 12 at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth.

The goal of Gwinnett Reads, according to the mission statement posted on its Web site, is to invite local literary aficionados "to share the experience of reading the same book," and to "engage the community in the joys of reading, and to generate discussion throughout Gwinnett."

Gwinnett County Public Library plans to host five other events throughout the county that will tie into the book. The Chieftains Museum in Rome will provide the programming for one of one of them, and the rest are as-yet-to-be-determined.

"We are so pleased with all the programming possibilities this book provides," Stanbery-Kellam said, "including storytelling, music and living history."

She also said the staff has researched Gwinnett's own Cherokee history with great enthusiasm to prepare for these events.

"It has been interesting to explore," she said, "and we look forward to sharing some of what we have learned at our community programs."