Day 8: A moving story with human complexity that transcends categories

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Finalist:

My Mother Is Now Earth by Mark Anthony RoloMy Mother Is Now Earth by Mark Anthony Rolo
Published by Borealis Books/Minnesota Historical Society Press
Category Sponsor: Leonard, Street and Deinard

Uprooted from family and community in Milwaukee by her abusive husband, Corrine Rolo struggles to raise their seven children on a remote farm near Big Falls, Minnesota. With an innocent and sometimes brutal child’s view, Mark Anthony Rolo recounts the last three years of his mother’s life as she battles poverty, depression, and isolation—all the while fighting to live with dignity, not despair.

Excerpt from My Mother Is Now Earth:

My mother wants to be buried in fire.

She races into a burning farmhouse, letting serpent flames twist around her legs. She stumbles in the black haze, straddles the edge of a fiery grave, waiting to be tripped into the Earth.

My father leaps across the snows between the barn and the house. He pushes his way through the thick, dark smoke, reaching out, trying to touch her.

He finds her through her screams—“My babies! My babies!” My father pries her fingers from flaming beams and snatches her away from crumbling walls.

Mark Anthony Rolo

Mark Anthony Rolo is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and teaches English at the White Earth Tribal and Community College in Mahnomen, Minnesota. He is the former editor of The Circle newspaper.


“Many a modern memoir explores a troubled childhood, but the genre has few standouts. Rolo’s is one.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune (read the full article)

“…I was mesmerized by this powerful narrative and could not look away until I came to the final gorgeous page. In tracing his elusive mother, Rolo not only restores dignity to her difficult life, but somehow manages to restore dignity to us all.” —Susan Power, author of The Grass Dancer and Roofwalker

In the press:

“Reads like a novel…Until I got to the end, and his “Afterword,” I thought this was a novel, with a carefully drawn central character telling the story from a convincingly child’s perspective.” Twin Cities Daily Planet Review

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music by Reina del Cid and the Cidizens. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read My Mother Is Now Earth? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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Posted in Memoir & Creative Nonfiction
2 comments on “Day 8: A moving story with human complexity that transcends categories
  1. Claudia Seymour says:

    Rolo’s book is painful, yet beautiful. The child’s point of view is unerring, deliberate, and utterly natural. Though Corine, the author’s mother, had such difficulties within her family and within herself, somehow she found the strength, summoned up the love, to give her child what he needed to be a strong person, successful and faithful to his creative nature. For those who are haunted by sad childhoods, this book is a reminder that there is hope and redemption.

  2. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is fantastic, as well as the content!

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