SouthBound Lecture Series:

Susan Zurenda

Monday, March 2, 2020
7:00 p.m.
Arts Building
Tickets are $10.
About the Novel

First cousins Ellison (Eli) Winfield and Adeline (Delia) Green are meant to grow up happily and innocently across the street from one another amid the supposed wholesome values of small-town Green Branch, South Carolina, in the 1960’s and 70’s. But Eli’s tragic accident changes the trajectory of their lives and of those connected to them. Shunned and even tortured by his peers for his disfigurement and frailty, Eli struggles for acceptance in childhood as Delia passionately devotes herself to defending him.

Delia’s vivid and compassionate narrative voice presents Eli as a confident young man in adolescence—the visible damage to his body gone—but underneath hide indelible wounds harboring pain and insecurity, scars that rule his impulses. And while Eli cherishes Delia more than anyone and attempts to protect her from her own teenage troubles, he cares not for protecting himself. Each possesses an extraordinary will, determined to safeguard the other.

Bells for Eli is a lyrical and tender exploration of the relationship between cousins drawn together through tragedy in a love forbidden by social constraints and a family whose secrets must stay hidden. Susan Beckham Zurenda masterfully transports readers into a small Southern town where quiet, ordinary life becomes extraordinary. In this compelling coming of age story, culture, family, friends, bullies, and lovers propel two young people to unite to guard each other in a world where love, hope, and connectedness ultimately triumph.

About the Author

After teaching literature, composition, and creative writing to thousands of high school and
college students for 33 years, Susan turned her attention to putting a novel in her heart on paper, the genesis of which started with a short story that won a fiction prize some years ago. She is delighted to present her debut novel, Bells for Eli, to readers beginning March 2, 2020. During her years of teaching at Spartanburg Community College and then as an AP English teacher at Spartanburg High School, Susan published short stories and won numerous regional awards such as the South Carolina Fiction Prize (twice), the Porter Fleming Competition, The Southern Writers Symposium Emerging Writers Fiction Contest, The Hub City Hardegree Contest in Fiction, Alabama Conclave First Novel Chapter Contest, and The Jubilee Writing Competition (twice). Since 2018, she has published six stories in literary magazines.


Susan received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from Converse College and now works as a book publicist managing media relations for Magic Time Literary Publicity. Writing and the love of literature have been central in her life since early childhood, perhaps beginning when her father read poetry to her and her brother at bedtime. Her earliest public writings were skits she wrote for her friends to perform at occasions ranging from junior high talent shows to an annual entertainment program at Girl Scout summer camp.

Susan lives in Spartanburg, SC, with her husband Wayne. She has two daughters who live with their families in the coastal area of the state.

Before the lecture, Susan will also be leading a writing workshop! Click here for more information.



The Arts Building

301 East 11th Street

Suite 301

Chattanooga, TN 37403


(423) 267-1218

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