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Speaker Series: Cinelle Barnes

Local author Cinelle Barnes will be joined in conversation with Jeanette Guinn, the Host of SC Public Radio(Arts Daily) to discuss her incredible memoir, Monsoon Mansion. To RSVP, please call 843-723-9912 or email dreutter@charlestonlibrarysociety.org

Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Cinelle Barnes is an essayist, memoirist, and educator with a BA in media studies in journalism from Hunter College and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Converse College. She is a fellow of the Kundiman Creative Nonfiction Intensive at Fordham University and the Voices of the Nations Arts at the University of Pennsylvania, a founding member of the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, and a presenter-member for the Creative Writing Studies Organization. Her writing has appeared in Literary Hub, Skirt, Hub City Press's online anthology, and TAYO Literary Magazine, among others. Books have been the one constant in her life—through her tumultuous childhood in the Philippines, her years living as an undocumented immigrant in New York City, her time as a new bride living in the American South, and as she completed her MFA program and began writing about her secrets. She lives between two states with her husband and daughter: New York, where she is always inspired to write, and South Carolina, where she can be close to the ocean. Find her online at www.cinellebarnes.com, and follow her on Instagram @cinellebarnesbooks.

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