John Hanson Mitchell

What do the locals do in the isolated backcountry of Corsica, a Mediterranean island, in the 1960s?

That is the question that John Hanson Mitchell, editor of Sanctuary, answers in his collection of essays entitled “The Rose Cafe.” Mitchell won the Winner of the 1994 John Burroughs Essay Award; he also received the 2000 New England Booksellers’ Award for his body of work. Mitchell will be in RiverRun Bookstore to read from and sign copies of the book on Wednesday, May 2, at 7:00 pm.

In 1962, while he was a student in Paris, John Hanson Mitchell spent a luminous six months on the Mediterranean island of Corsica at the Rose Café in Ile Rousse. Twenty-two, Mitchell spent his idyll hours there observing the lives of the people who frequented the place. These included a group of local card players (some with possible underworld connections) who visited each night, as well as colorful continental types and a younger crowd at play — all spellbound by the lush charms of the island.

In the polished prose that has made his other books so distinctive and well-loved, Mitchell captures the rhythms and intrigues of a life lived elsewhere, bringing us an insider’s portrait of the light and dark shadows that loomed over postwar Corsica. He reveals in the process the island’s magic at work on his own life — how it cultivated the bloom of his writing talent and shaped his sense of place.

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