The Iguana Tree: Michel Smoak Stone ’91

English graduate Michel Smoak Stone’s debut novel, The Iguana Tree, which Library Journal says “recalls the work of John Steinbeck,” received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and an award for one of the top novels published in 2012 by an independent publisher.

Raised on Johns Island, Stone encountered illegal Mexican immigrants who “were forthright in telling me their story.” The inspiration for her book came from a couple who were smuggled into the U.S. with their young child. Stone wanted to explore why people would take such a risk, would put themselves into the hands of people they couldn’t trust — people who might, in fact, just as soon kill them as look at them — without even knowing whether the risks ultimately would be worthwhile.

Stone lives in Spartanburg and is working on her second novel.

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