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The Committee

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Professor Tom Stall’s career and life are threatened when a nefarious government-affiliated group of men begin investigating the private acts of innocent people in late 1950s Florida.

Forthcoming: 1/7/20

$16.95 $12.71

What people are saying…

“The Johns Committee, a real, if lesser-known, McCarthy-esque group active in Florida, hovers over this tense, character-driven novel set in 1958 . . . Watson ably evokes a sense of the McCarthy era’s regional impact in this thought-provoking story.”
Publishers Weekly

“[Watson] does an excellent job of portraying a time, place, and culture without assigning contemporary values where they didn’t exist . . . The dialogue is realistic, and the pacing, especially toward the end, is quick and intense. Any reader wanting a history lesson wrapped in a compelling, believable novel will find much to contemplate here.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Committee is a triumph of historical fiction—and a warning from our past. Sterling Watson swiftly and elegantly anchors the reader in an era that many would love to forget, and then reminds us of the humanity within the history. Watson is the rare writer who can address the big ideas—politics and power, love and hate, fear and freedom—without ever losing sight of the characters at the story’s heart.”
—Michael Koryta, New York Times best-selling author of How It Happened

“Sterling Watson is a rare find among writers as he commands all the elements of great fiction, and he continues to prove this with The Committee. In his latest must-read, Watson uses his great skill to shepherd readers back to 1950s Florida and a terrifying time when unchecked power, driven by hatred and prejudice, destroyed lives.”
—Lori Roy, Edgar Award–winning author of Gone Too Long

“Sterling Watson’s The Committee shines a bright light on one of the darkest times in our collective history. This multilayered and complex look at how easy—and terrifying—it is for power and hatred to corrupt is a must-read for anyone who still subscribes to the notion that the 1950s were an idyllic time in American history.”
—Greg Herren, author of Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories

“Timely and pertinent to today’s cultural and political climate, this fictional account of the persecution of gay people by the state in the 1950s reveals a part of Florida’s past that sowed prejudice against our community for decades. This is a must-read.”
—Gale Massey, author of The Girl from Blind River

The Committee is a timely reminder that the hard work of resistance and social justice often falls to reluctant ordinary citizens—the question is, will they rise to the moment or go-along-to-get-along? Sterling Watson’s historical novel takes us to a Florida in the grip of a McCarthyesque governor determined to rid the state of homosexuals and communists. I found myself riding anxiously alongside Tom Stall as he doggedly navigated the hazards of his own imperfections, and the fraught politics of his Florida campus, trying to protect his career and family without sacrificing his integrity. Again and again, I shook my head in frustration at the craven politics portrayed in this book while taking inspiration to fight the injustices we face today.”
—Alsace Walentine, Tombolo Books


Description

In the late 1950s, Gainesville, Florida, seems to be a sleepy university town. Its residents live, by outward appearances, ordinary lives. And yet the town is far from ordinary. The most private acts of professors, students, townspeople rich and poor, and politicians are under the close scrutiny of a shadowy group of men—the Committee—who use the powers of government and the police to investigate, threaten, and control this increasingly fearful community.

The Committee pits friends against friends and threatens careers and lives in a struggle for the soul of a town, a university, and an ideal. Based on actual historical events and set against the backdrop of political, cultural, and class turmoil, this is a story of love—both licit and hidden—war, friendship, betrayal, compromise, and finally the necessity to stand firm against the encroachments upon freedom by men who believe they are doing God’s and the government’s righteous work.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Published: 1/7/20
  • IBSN: 9781617757686
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757822
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617757839

Author

STERLING WATSON is the author of eight novels, including Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby, Fighting in the Shade, and Suitcase City. Watson’s short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, the Georgia Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Southern Review. He was director of the creative writing program at Eckerd College for twenty years and now teaches in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. Of his sixth novel, Suitcase City, Tom Franklin said, “If this taut literary crime novel doesn’t center Sterling Watson on the map, we should change maps.” Watson lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Committee is his latest novel.

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