Novel by alum honored by bookstore

The debut novel of Grambling State alumnus Hal clark has been named a bookclub reading selection for the month of September by Barnes & Noble in Harvey.

The selection of Chummy’s Spirit is part of the store’s focus on promoting outstanding fiction by African-American writers.

The culminating event, consisting of a reading, discussion and signing, happens at 7 p.m. Friday at Barnes & Noble, 1601 Westbank Expressway.

Clark is host and producer of Sunday Journal, a show on New Orleans WYLD-FM radio station.

"Hal Clark takes readers on an incredible journey, a journey filled with tremendous highs and abysmal lows," said Travis Williams, Barnes & Noble-Harvey’s lead bookseller and bookclub coordinator.

"It pays homage to the power of the human spirit-Chummy’s Spirit."

The New Orleans-area best-selling novel tells the story of an African-American woman named Cordelia "Chummy" Johnson, who learns that the remains of her son, James, have been found in Tay Ninh, Vietnam, 32 years after he had been reported missing in action.

Chummy has never left Louisiana, but seriously considers visiting the site where James’ remains were located. The long-awaited revelation also encourages her to finally inquire about the sketchy details surrounding the death of her husband, Jolly, who was murdered in a New Orleans brothel 10 years after James’ disappearance.

Despite Chummy’s amazing faith and extraordinary psychological resources, her hopes of visiting Vietnam are constantly challenged by a violent, drug-infested urban environment and a nonsupportive nephew, Bryan, who believes she’s simply an unrealistic old lady.

Clark conducted research throughout southern Vietnam in April 2001, having visited the cities of Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi, Tay Ninh and Nha Trang.

The novel is a tribute to the work of the Joint Task Force and to the nearly 2,000 Americans and 300,000 Vietnamese still unaccounted for from the war in Southeast Asia and their families.

Chummy’s Spirit is available online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble stores nationwide and online at www.bn.com, and in New Orleans at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St.