One Book, One Columbia, three questions

Jonathan Haupt
Jonathan Haupt Provided photo

Jonathan Haupt is the University of South Carolina Press director, which published Carla Damron’s novel “The Stone Necklace,” before it was chosen for 2016 One Book, One Columbia.

We talked with him about the book’s selection for the reading initiative.

What about “The Stone Necklace” stood out to you?

“Even when this was submitted to us for publication early on, it was clear to me that this was a book of Columbia. We knew we wanted as many people in Columbia as possible to read this and really look at themselves and each other through the lens of the novel. It’s a story about healing and about empathy, given the events of the last year.”

Do you happen to have a favorite character?

“It’s story of four inter-related lives. There’s not in a stricter sense one story or one hero in the book, or even a villain in the book for that matter. The beauty of the story is the way in which lives come together, the way we impact one another without ever noticing or thinking about that. So to pick out one character would be a limiting approach to a novel that is ultimately about how the community, the city interacts with each other.”

What is one thing in particular you would like readers to take away from this book?

“I think readers are going to find themselves in this novel, and that may be surprising and fascinating to them to see themselves, their neighbors and community members. Hopefully they’ll discover Columbia is such a rich place for telling stories. I don’t think anyone has looked at the city the way that Carla has. In fact, (New York Times Best Selling author) Pat Conroy says something to that effect in his endorsement of it. ... We really wanted this to be novel of Columbia in the best possible sense.”