As a River (September 2019, Jaded Ibis Press)
It’s 1977. Bannen, Georgia, nestled amid pine forests, is rife with contrasts: natural beauty and racial tension, small-town charm and long-term poverty. An unsettling place for a Black man who fled it years ago and has since traveled the world.
But Greer Michaels has to come home, to care for his dying mother. And that means he’ll have to reckon with the devastating secret that drove him out in the first place.
Greer’s story is intertwined with those of the people around him: His mother, Elizabeth, who once had a dazzling singing voice but fell silent years ago. Their neighbor Esse, who has turned to religion after her own traumatic past. Esse’s teenaged daughter, Ceiley, an insatiable reader with a burning curiosity about life beyond Bannen’s town limits.
Written in spare and lyrical prose, As a River moves back and forth across decades, evoking the mysterious play of memory as it touches upon shame and redemption, despair and connection. An exploration of family secrets rooted in the turbulent history of the segregated South, As a River is ultimately about our struggles to understand each other, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
“Sion Dayson is an unusually gifted writer with all the right storytelling skills.”
– Clint McCown, award-winning author of Haints and The Weatherman
“Astonishing. As a River rolls with spirit and winds its way around our hearts. Sion Dayson is a bright new talent, full of verve, bravery and poetry. Read this incandescent novel and prepare to be mesmerized.”
— Rene Denfeld, bestselling author of The Child Finder
“With an eye for imagery and the fault lines of southern history, Sion Dayson draws compelling parallels between rural childhood and the forested landscape—its lushness and its dangers.”
– Ravi Howard, author of Driving the King and Like Trees, Walking, winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence
“Sion Dayson has created characters like blown glass: beautifully fragile yet impossibly strong. An extraordinary debut, written with deep feeling yet elegant restraint, that makes us question our own assumptions about family, identity, and love.” – Julie Christine Johnson, author of The Crows of Beara and In Another Life, a Foreword Indies Book of the Year
“Written with great lyricism and compassion, As a River testifies, not only to the grim legacies of our national history, but to the resilience of individuals and communities who dare to love and dare to speak the truth.” – Naomi J. Williams, author of Landfalls, a Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
“Expertly crafted plot, lyrical prose, and an ending that brings us to the depths of life and death” – Independent Book Review
“Insightful, observant, and poetic” – Foreword Reviews
“Masterful writing” – Small Press Picks
“A heroic reminder of how fiction can point so clearly, so unimpeachably, at the truth of how things were, how things are” – After the Pause
“A sensuously and smoothly written book, a heartfelt meditation on what divides us from each other and from love” – The Arts Fuse
Sion Dayson grew up in North Carolina and earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Utne Reader, and many other venues, and her writings often focus on travel, living abroad, and her literary hero, James Baldwin. Her popular blog paris (im)perfect explored the City of Light’s less glamorous side. After a decade in Paris, she now resides in Valencia, Spain.
Sion Dayson, author, email@example.com
Elizabeth Earley, publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org