BOONE, N.C. — The Department of English in Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences announces Caleb Johnson as its visiting assistant professor of creative writing. Beginning this fall, Johnson will serve a three-year term at Appalachian, teaching courses in fiction and nonfiction, as well as composition and the Rachel Rivers Coffey Colloquium in Creative Writing.
His debut novel, “Treeborne,” was released June 5 by Macmillan Publishers. The novel, set in the town of Elberta, Alabama, tells the story of its fictional characters through the lens of Janie Treeborne, who lives on and is the caretaker of an orchard situated at the town’s edge.
“Caleb Johnson is a brilliant and important new voice in American literature. His novel ‘Treeborne’ comes out of a long lineage of magical realism, but is, at the same time, something entirely new. We are incredibly lucky to have him at Appalachian,” said Mark Powell, assistant professor in Appalachian’s Department of English.
In its description of the novel, the Macmillan Publishers website states: “A place where conquistadors once walked, and where the peaches they left behind now grow, Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change—and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people … As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. ‘Treeborne’ is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place.”
Alyson Hagy, author of the novel “Boleto,” said, “Every now and again a powerful new voice bursts into song and begins to sing stories we can’t do without. Caleb Johnson’s is such a voice. The characters and desires of ‘Treeborne’ will wrap themselves around you tighter than any wild vine. And the setting of Elberta, Alabama, will call out to you like a long-lost home. This novel is a gripping, entrancing debut by one whirlwind of a writer.”
Additionally, of Johnson’s novel, Laird Hunt, author of “Neverhome,” wrote, “What a marvel of a novel this is. (The novel’s) sentences are taut, its situations engrossing, its characters absolutely and indelibly engaging. Caleb Johnson’s debut is a deep-dig, history-rich, story-soaked beauty.”
“Treeborne” is available from the publisher in hardback, audiobook and e-book formats, and is sold by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and others. This fall, the book will be offered by Appalachian’s Belk Library and Information Commons and will be available for purchase from the University Bookstore.
About Caleb Johnson
Johnson grew up in the rural community of Arley, Alabama, and graduated from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was awarded a Jentel Writing Residency after he received his MFA from the University of Wyoming, and also received a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship in fiction to the Sewanee Writers' Conference.
In addition to “Treeborne,” Johnson is the author of several works of nonfiction, including the essays “When Your Childhood Memories Get Privatized” (Literary Hub, June 2018) and “Gabriel García Márquez’s Road Trip Through Alabama,” (The Paris Review Daily, February 2018).
He has worked as a small-town newspaper reporter, an early morning janitor, a whole-animal butcher and an arts administrator, among other jobs. Currently, he lives in Philadelphia, where he teaches at a middle school for at-risk students while working on his next novel. He will join the faculty of Appalachian’s Department of English this fall as its visiting assistant professor of creative writing.
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.