Author Event: Sheila O’Connor
Award-winning Minnesota author Sheila O’Connor presents her book, Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions, which is set to be released in October 2019.
In an ambitious blend of fact and fiction, including family secrets, documents from the era, and a thin, fragmentary case file unsealed by the court, Connor tells the story of V, a talented 15-year-old singer in 1930’s Minneapolis who aspires to be a star. Drawing on the little-known American practice of incarcerating adolescent girls for “immorality” in the first half of the 20th century, O’Connor follows young V from her early work as a nightclub entertainer to her subsequent six-year state school sentence for an unplanned pregnancy.
As V struggles to survive within a system only nominally committed to rescue and reform, she endures injustices that will change the course of her life and the lives of her descendants. Inspired by O’Connor’s research on her unknown maternal grandmother and the long-term effects of intergenerational trauma, Evidence of V is a poignant excavation of familial and national history that remains disturbingly relevant — a harrowing story of exploitation and erasure, and the infinite ways in which girls, past and present, are punished for crimes they didn’t commit. O’Connor’s collage novel offers an engaging balance between illuminating a shameful and hidden chapter of American history and captivating the reader with the vivid and unforgettable character of V.
O’Connor is a multi-genre writer whose books include novels for adults and young people. Her novels for young readers include Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth, Sparrow Road, and Keeping Safe the Stars. Adult works include Where No Gods Came and Tokens of Grace. O’Connor’s work has been honored with the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction, Minnesota Book Award, International Reading Award and Midwest Booksellers Award among others, and has been included in Best Books of the Year by Booklist, VOYA, Book Page and Chicago Public Library. O’Connor received her MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her work across genres has been recognized with the Loft Literary Center’s McKnight Fellowship, two Bush Artist Fellowships, and several Artist Initiative grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. She is a professor in the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., where she serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.