Soul Catcher

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Michael C. White's new novel, Soul Catcher, will be published by William Morrow in September 2007. Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls, has said of Soul Catcher, "The book will be compared to Cold Mountain of course, but White’s book is a more dramatic narrative and every bit as richly detailed and beautifully written. Cain and Rosetta’s journey is no easy passage, and that ratchets up the dramatic stakes. But while CATCHER reads like an adventure story, the book has its own impressive weight. Slavery and its effects are clearly and effectively portrayed as the worm in the American apple, and that gives Cain’s personal journey a metaphorical heft similar to Huck Finn’s. It’s an important book."

White is the author of four other novels: A Brother’s Blood, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers nominee; The Blind Side of the Heart, an Alternate Book-of-the-Month Club selection; A Dream of Wolves, which received starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly; and The Garden of Martyrs. A collection of his short stories, Marked Men, was published by the University of Missouri Press. He has also published over 45 short stories in national magazines and journals, and has won the Advocate Newspapers Fiction Award and been nominated for both a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart. He was the founding editor of the yearly fiction anthology American Fiction. Currently he is the editor of Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose.

He teaches fiction writing workshops and literature courses at Fairfield University, and is on the faculty of Stonecoast, the University of Southern Maine’s low-residency MFA program. He lives on a lake in Guilford, CT, with his black lab Henry.

Critical acclaim for Soul Cather

"Like everything else in this book, he's [Augustus Cain] ripe for filming: a hard-drinking, straight-talking, scarred-but-sexy cavalier with a passion for Milton . . . The pages turn effortlessly and White's pacy plotting and bold handling of America's bitter past should ensure him a place on the bestseller lists for years to come."  Financial Times, England 

Soul Catcher is a marvelous historical novel  . . . the perfect book if you or someone you love has worn out the DVD's in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War, hyperventilates at the mere mention of Cold Mountain or yearns for stories about psychologically damaged men on horseback, a la Lonesome Dove . . . an insightful journey of human redemption." —USA Today"

"A galloping good tale about runaway slaves and a tortured soul who hunts them against his better nature...[A] vividly imagined historical novel ... His greatest accomplishment is Cain, the conflicted Southerner who goes through the moral reckoning that all Americans were soon to face in the Civil War and its aftermath. His contradictions remind us that when it comes to race, things have never been black and white in this country.” — Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Michael White transports readers to the chaotic years before the Civil War in Soul Catcher...Reminiscent of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn—both in subject (slavery) and in combining an arduous physical journey with the protagonist’s interior moral journey—the story gallops with action yet also examines such themes as race, honor and redemption...Michael White’s eloquent prose rarely draws attention to itself, and his extensive historical research creates evocative descriptions of the people, places and even products of the mid-19th century...Soul Catcher is an exceptional novel from an experienced literary craftsman.”
   — Charlotte Observer

A sweeping novel spanning the tumultuous time in American history...White has created a complicated and deeply scarred protagonist looking for salvation in a dark vision of human bondage...Very convincing and well wrought.”
   — Library Journal  

"Soul Catcher strips bare the myths of the antebellum South and exposes the corrupt society it truly was. In a brilliant homage to Paradise Lost, White examines the moral dilemmas of human existence through protagonist Augustus Cain: The slave-catcher must decide whether he will have a heaven or hell on earth. This novel is destined to join the ranks of great Civil War literature."   —Booksense, Editors' Choice Selection

“[A] heartbreaking story...Devastating in its final impact.”
   — Booklist

“Captivating and enlightening...A pre-Civil War saga historical saga that quickly becomes a page-turner...With Soul Catcher, White has penned a historical adventure, a romance, a perceptive commentary on slavery’s ills and a thoughtful character study—all wrapped up in this highly recommended novel.” —Bookpage 

“Soul Catcher [is] a good, old-fashioned page turner, with shootouts, ambushes, and horse chases that honestly will have you reading late into the night to see what happens next . . .  a thoughtful exploration of a nation living with a brutal institution that contradicts its highest ideals. However busy you may be, you won't regret making time for this book." — Boston Globe

“[White’s] dialogue and good use of detail lend an authenticity to the characters and the era . . . a beautiful page turner.” — Associated Press

“Soul Catcher has as many twists and turns as a good thriller; most readers will probably be unable to predict what happens in the final pages.”  — Connecticut Post

“Sweeping...The trek becomes a means of redemption for both the ‘soul catcher’ and his captives, and paints an unsettling portrait of a nation on the brink of civil war...Vivid...The book succeeds in presenting a fractious era and a host of moral quagmires. Cain—a flawed and coarse antihero—become emblematic of a historical moment under White’s sure hand.”
   — Publishers Weekly

"White teaches us the power of strong characterization and breathing new life into common human situations.  He brilliantly brings the violence and divided loyalties of the antebellum years to life."   —Historial Novels Review, Editor's Selection

"This pre-Civil War historical thriller provides a fabulous account of a nation struggling for its soul. Cain in many ways is symbolic of the non-slave states of the United States in the 1850s . . . Cain makes for a strong morality tale."  —



Speaking Engagements/Appearances in 2008

Jan. 4-9, Stonecoast MFA, Freeport, MA

Jan. 25-26, Bookmania Festival, Stuart, FL

Feb. 2, AWP Conference, NY--book signing

March 17, Springfield College, MA

March 30, Western Massachusetts Writers Union,  

      Jones Library, Amherst, MA

Aril 12, Storrs Library, Longmeadow, MA

April 19, New Hampshire Writer's Project, 

        S. New Hampshire Univ., Manchester, NH

April 30, Connecticut Library Association, Groton, CT

July 5-15, Stonecoast MFA residency, Brunswick, ME

July 24, Union Church, Biddeford Pool, ME

Sept. 2, PAPERBACK RELEASE OF Soul Catcher

Sept. 13, Salem Literary Festival (MA), 7 pm

Sept. 15, River Run Books, Portsmouth, NH, 7 pm

Sept. 25, Borders, Fairfield, CT 7 pm

Oct. 20, Odyssey Books, S. Hadley, MA, 7 pm

The Idea for Soul Catcher

Soul Catcher came to me several years ago when I was reading Russell Banks’ novel Cloudsplitter, in which he mentions slave catchers going north to capture fugitive slaves.   I think we are all fascinated by the nature of evil, and slavery, arguably, has been America’s supreme manifestation of evil.  With this as a starting point, I wondered how someone could make a living hunting people down and bringing them back in shackles to bondage.  More than this, I wondered how such a man could justify his life, to others but more importantly, to himself.   So began the idea for Cain. The next part of the story followed from this: what would happen if a slave catcher were bringing a runaway back to slavery and during the weeks of their journey together an emotional bond developed between them.  With that the idea for Soul Catcher was born.  


The Garden of Martyrs book cover     A Brother's Blood book cover     The Blind Side of the Heart book cover     A Dream of Wolves book cover
Marked Men book cover