Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors

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9781559708326: Kinfolks: Falling Off the Family Tree - The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors
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Traces the author's personal search for the missing members of her family tree, a dark-skinned, six-fingered clan of alleged child snatchers from east Tennessee with mysterious historical origins and descendents she was forbidden to visit.

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From the Inside Flap:

In this dazzling, hilarious memoir, best-selling author of KINFLICKS Lisa Alther chronicles her search for the missing -- often mysterious -- branches of her family tree.     Most of us grow up thinking we know who we are and where we come from.  Lisa Alther's mother hailed from New York, her father from Virginia, and every day they reenacted the Civil War at home in East Tennessee.  Then one night a grizzled babysitter with brown teeth told Lisa about the Melungeons:  six-fingered child snatchers who hid in cliff caves outside town.  Forgetting about these creepy kidnappers until she had a daughter of her own, Lisa learned that the Melungeons were actually a group of dark-skinned people -- some with extra thumbs -- living in isolated pockets in the South.  But who were they?  Where did they come from?  Were they the descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, or of shipwrecked Portuguese or Turkish sailors?  Or were they the children of European frontiersmen, African slaves, and Native Americans?  Theories abounded, but no one seemed to know for sure.     Learning that a cousin had had his extra thumbs removed, Lisa set out to discover who these mysterious Melungeons really were and why her grandmother wouldn't let her visit their Virginia relatives.  Were there Melungeons in the family tree?  Lisa assembled a hoard of clues over the years, but DNA testing finally offered answers.     Part sidesplitting travelogue, part how -- and how not -- to climb your family tree, KINFOLKS shimmers with wicked humor, illustrating just how wacky and wonderful our human family really is.

From the Back Cover:

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR KINFOLKS

"A sometimes hilarious, often poignant, always memorable ride."
--Judy Blume

"Like a detective story, clues in all kinds of improbable places, leading to astonishing conclusions . . . Most engaging, written with the dry humor of Alther at her best."
--Doris Lessing

"Heartily welcomed . . . This story needs to be told, as it is emblematic of so much of the mixing that has gone on."
--Henry Louis Gates Jr.

"The kind of book that stays with you for years . . . Tantalizingly perceptive, it seeps into your bones and becomes a part of you."
--Tahir Shah

"A bold adventure and . . . very funny."
--Gail Godwin

"Fascinating . . . It tells a long and winding tale with laugh-out-loud, kick-you-in-the-gut humor."
--Honor Moore

"With her characteristic insight and wit, Lisa Alther . . . demonstrates that . . . the journey is clearly as worthwhile as the desired destination."
--Wayne Winkler

"Honest and funny . . . Alther, with her sharp southern wit, crushes all of our favorite illusions about racial identity."
--W. Ralph Eubanks

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