New York Times best-selling author Beth Macy to visit Sweet Briar

Posted on September 11, 2018 by Amy Ostroth

Beth Macy Beth Macy

Sweet Briar College will launch its 2018-2019 Writers Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, with a visit by Beth Macy.

Macy is the author of three books, the latest of which is “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America.” The book looks at the opioid epidemic in the United States and reached number 5 on the New York Times Best Seller List. In talking about the book, Macy says that she wrote it the only way she knew how: “By witnessing the epidemic’s landing in three Virginia communities over two decades and getting to know the people on the front lines. From distressed small communities in central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs, from disparate cities to once idyllic farm towns, it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that explains how the national crisis became so entrenched.”

Her other two books were also best-sellers. Her first book, “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town,” is a story about a furniture-maker from the storied furniture-making family in Bassett, Va., who refused to send production overseas and kept workers in his Galax, Va., factory employed. “Factory Man” is now in development to become a film with Tom Hanks playing the title character.

Dopesick-Beth Macy
Her second book, “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South,” tells the story about about two kidnapped African-American brothers and their mother’s decades-long struggle to get them back.

Macy grew up in the Midwest, where her mother was a factory worker and her father a housepainter. She was the first member of her family to go to college. But, she knows more than a little about the places featured in her books; she’s spent more than half her life in the South, including more than 25 years as journalist for The Roanoke Times, where she wrote on a variety of topics from displaced factory workers to veterans with PTSD. She’s written for The New York Times, as well as magazines and journals. You can read more about Macy on her website.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Beth Macy back to Sweet Briar” says John Gregory Brown, director of the College’s English and creative writing program. “She is a remarkable writer, a first-class journalist and author whose work is wide-ranging but invariably informed by a profound empathy for the lives she so eloquently chronicles. I can’t imagine a better role model and inspiration for our students.”

Macy is the first of five writers visiting as part of this year’s Writers Series, which is sponsored by the College’s English and creative writing program. Tessa Fontaine will be on campus Tuesday, Oct. 2, to talk about her book “The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts.” Chimamanda Adichie will give a reading and talk on Thursday, Oct. 25. Susannah Nevison and Meg Day will close out the 2018-2019 Writers Series on Thursday, March 14, 2019.

All events in the series take place in the Reahard Learning Gallery of Mary Helen Cochran Library.

For more information about these authors and the Sweet Briar College Writers Series, contact Brown at or (434) 381-6434.