New Historical Novel Tackles Racism and Immigration in Colorado

Press Release ( - DENVER - Feb 03, 2017 - V.L. Purvis-Smith, author, pastor, and English teacher originally from rural Colorado, announces the publication of Greenwood Riven, her first historical novel. Greenwood Riven depicts the racial hostility, political incivility, and economic inequality that defined relationships between indigenous, Mexican, Anglo, and Japanese communities on Colorado’s High Plains at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. A celebration of the book’s launch was held in Denver on January 30, 2017. Visit to learn more or to purchase the novel.

Set in Colorado’s Southeastern swath of counties called “Greenwood” when the Colorado Territory was established, the book portrays life in a farming community during World War II. Central to the story are Spanish Americans (a term used at the time) and the construction of Camp Amache, a “relocation center” for people of Japanese ancestry forcibly relocated from the West Coast. President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, signed February 19, 1942, set the process in motion. A Day of Remembrance is held annually, and this year’s 75th anniversary will be held at the History Colorado Center.

“Communities on the High Plains of the 1940s were a mix of multiple races and ethnicities whose co-existence was tested under the pressures of war,” said Purvis-Smith. “The story captures the fears and realities of ethnic tensions during times of crisis that parallel today’s perceived threats by contemporary immigrant groups.”

To populate Greenwood Riven with characters, and events, typical of the era, Purvis-Smith immersed herself in community newspapers. She interviewed people representing Southern Colorado’s diverse racial and cultural groups and West Coast Japanese Americans forced to leave their homes for the camps. She visited various museums including the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles), the Trinidad History Museum (Colorado), and the Pioneer Historical Society of Bent County (Colorado).

Patrick McWilliams, retired English teacher and librarian, writes: “I am engrossed by Purvis-Smith’s skillful use of minor and mega-details without bogging down the reader… I have been hoping to read someone who could capture the feel of the plains in Colorado as novelist Kent Haruf evoked them.”

About V.L. Purvis-Smith

V.L. (“Ginny”) Purvis-Smith grew up on a Colorado farm replete with coal stove, outhouse, and milk cows. Ginny earned a Ph.D. in English and Education from the University of Michigan and a Master of Divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. Ginny served churches in the Midwest and on the East Coast, worked as a chaplain, directed an English language program in Sénégal, West Africa, and taught in Michigan and The Bahamas. Ginny lives in Westminster with her husband and has begun work on a biography of one of the people who served as a resource for Greenwood Riven.

Source : V.L. Purvis-Smith
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V.L. Purvis-Smith

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