Lanham has written an unforgettable memoir about growing up in rural Edgefield County, South Carolina, a “rich refuge for wild things.” With gorgeous (and sometimes heartbreaking) prose, he describes the full-sensory experience of the natural world around him—the same land that his ancestors were forced to toil. “In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. I am, in the deepest sense, colored.” As an African-American ornithologist and wildlife ecology professor, Lanham not only searches for rare birds, but is one. His essays on identity and belonging are powerful, and his passion for the natural world is inspiring. Without an emotional connection to nature, how can we possibly be fully committed to saving it?
From the fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist J. Drew Lanham. Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina--a place "easy to pass by on the way somewhere else"--has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be "the rare bird, the oddity." By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South--and in America today.
About the Author
J. Drew Lanham is a native of Edgefield, South Carolina, and an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Master Teacher at Clemson University. Lanham is a birder, naturalist, and hunter-conservationist who has published essays and poetry in publications including Orion, Flycatcher, and Wilderness, and in several anthologies, including The Colors of Nature, State of the Heart, Bartram's Living Legacy, and Carolina Writers at Home, among others. He and his family live in the Upstate of South Carolina, a soaring hawk's downhill glide from the southern Appalachian escarpment that the Cherokee once called the Blue Wall.