Books & Brews April 9 & 10 2019

Mar 14, 2019

WMRA’s April Books & Brews features Earl Swift discussing his book, Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island. His book has been described as a brilliant, soulful, and timely portrait of a two-hundred-year-old crabbing community along the Chesapeake Bay facing extinction because of climate change. It is part natural history, part tribute to a vanishing way of life, and part meditation on man's relationship with nature. Earl Swift is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and also the author of, The Big Roads

Tangier Island, a 1.3 square mile spit of land in the Chesapeake Bay off the coast of Virginia, is a unique American small town. Most of its residents in this natural wonderland speak a distinct dialect passed down from their ancestors, English settlers who arrived in the seventeenth century. In this "the soft-shell crab capital of the world," the economy has for decades revolved around blue crabs, and nearly everyone on Tangier-home to less than a thousand men, women, and children--is connected to the crabbing business.

Yet this place where neighbors know each other and doors aren't locked is disappearing; only four feet above sea level, it is losing fifteen feet of shoreline each year due to rising seas. Poised to become the first climate change casualty in the United States, the island could be uninhabitable in twenty years or less, barring widespread and extraordinarily expensive intervention from the federal government, some experts believe.

Going Under is a poignant, inside look at the past, present, and tenuous future of Tangier Island. Acclaimed journalist Earl Swift has spent much of the last two years living in this quaint and charmingly insular community that offers a few restaurants, two bed and breakfasts, and one ATM. Interweaving the story of Tangier's remarkable past with the first-person stories of crabbers and others who make their living from the sea, it is a bittersweet and eye-opening look at a world that has, quite nearly, gone by--and a crisis that will eventually impact all Americans, regardless of their views on climate change.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg at 7pm.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Crozet at the Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery at 7pm.

WMRA's Books & Brews series is sponsored by Union Bank & Trust.

When you present your WMRA Member Card at either event, you'll receive a certificate for a complimentary beer.

No tickets are required.

Earl Swift began writing for a living in his teens. In the years since, the Virginia-based journalist has penned seven books and hundreds of major features in newspapers and magazines and has earned a reputation for fast-moving narrative and scrupulous reporting. His editors nominated his book for the National Book Award, The National Magazine Award, and six times fir Pulitzer Prize. 

A former Fulbright fellow in New Zealand, Swift is currently as residential fellow of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.