• New to Liberty

    by Demisty D. Bellinger
    Price $26.00
    In Stock
    New to Liberty

DeMisty D. Bellinger at Harvard Book Store


New to Liberty:
A Novel



May 3, 2022
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes DEMISTY D. BELLINGER—poet and professor of creative writing at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts—for her debut novel New to Liberty: A Novel. She will be joined in conversation by author and editor ELIZABETH GONZALEZ JAMES and psychiatrist and poet Chaya Bhuvaneswar.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season, beginning this March. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About New to Liberty

Three women, decades apart from each other, fight for love and agency in a rural Kansas community seemingly frozen in time:

1966: Sissily is driving cross-country with a much older man called Ezzy. On their way to California to begin a life together, he insists on stopping at his family ranch outside Liberty, Kansas visit his mother, Mrs. Svoboda. This family reunion is a painful reminder for Sissily of the rumors about the scandal that led to her running away from home, but while Mrs. Svoboda is a domineering figure, Sissily sees a woman who harbors secrets of her own.

1947: Nella's family relocates to Liberty from Milwaukee, and during the summer before her senior year, begins an interracial relationship with a white man called Lucky. They can only meet in secret, or as Lucky is in a wheelchair sometimes Nella pretends to be his nurse. When three white men stumble upon "Nurse Nella" one catastrophic afternoon, the violence of a racist society forces Nella to face the harsh reality of her love affair.

1933: Greta finds love with a woman from the neighboring farm during the height of the Dust Bowl and brutal jackrabbit roundups. Surrounded by violence and starvation, their clandestine encounters are unsustainable, and yet the implications of their relationship will find a way to endure for generations.

A novel told in three parts, New to Liberty showcases the growth and strength of three unforgettable women as they evolve in a society that refuses to. In lustrous prose, DeMisty Bellinger brings the quiet but treacherous landscape to life, offering a vivid snapshot of mid-century America and keeping readers guessing until the end as to how these three women are connected.

Praise for New to Liberty

"Moving back through the summers of 1966, 1947, and 1933, DeMisty Bellinger’s New To Liberty gorgeously traces the long shadow of trauma lingering over the American Midwest from the scourge of the Dust Bowl to racism and violence toward women to the fleeting beauty of forbidden love. With vibrant and restrained prose, Bellinger has achieved the seemingly impossible: written an American epic in under two hundred pages." —John Copenhaver, award-winning author of The Savage Kind

“The narrative voices in New to Liberty bridge eras and personal isolation, resonating like intimate friends you've somehow always known. The novel's imagery, whether steeped in beauty, horror, love, or terror, stitches itself into your own fabric, becoming a part of you long after you've turned the last page.” —Chris Harding Thornton, author of Pickard County Atlas

New to Liberty is a moving, heartbreaking, and uplifting novel of racial injustice, innocence lost, and the safety of women in one another’s company, as well as a dissection of the stubborn Midwest and all the discrimination and prejudice that roils through that hard land like a dust storm.” —Leah Angstman, author of Out Front the Following Sea

Chaya Bhuvaneswar
Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar is a South Asian-American psychiatrist, poet, award winning fiction writer and essayist. Chaya’s debut short story collection, White Dancing Elephants, received several honors and awards, including Finalist for the 2019 PEN American/Robert W. Bingham Debut Fiction Prize. Her short fiction has also been anthologized in Her Mother’s Ashes 2 (TSAR Press) and Best Small Fictions (Sundress Press) in 2019.

DeMisty D. Bellinger
DeMisty D. Bellinger

DeMisty D. Bellinger

DeMisty D. Bellinger has an MFA in creative writing from Southampton College and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska. She teaches creative writing at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts. She serves as poetry editor at Porcupine Literary and Malarkey Books. DeMisty's writing has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Rumpus and The Best Small Fictions: 2019. She is the author of the chapbook of poems Rubbing Elbows and a full-length poetry collection, Peculiar Heritage. New to Liberty is her first novel.

Elizabeth Gonzalez James
Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Elizabeth Gonzalez James is the Interviews Editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has appeared in Idaho Review, Ploughshares Blog, StorySouth, PANK, and elsewhere. She is the author of Mona at Sea, out now from SFWP, and The Bullet Swallower, forthcoming in 2023 from Simon & Schuster.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

General Info
(617) 661-1515

Media Inquiries

Accessibility Inquiries

Masks Required

We currently require face masks at Harvard Book Store and at our events. Thanks for your understanding!

Learn More »

Classic Totes

Tote bags and pouches
in a variety of styles,
sizes, and designs
, plus mugs, bookmarks, and more!

Learn More »

Shipping & Pickup

We ship anywhere in the U.S. and orders of $75+ ship free via media mail!

Learn More »

Noteworthy Signed Books: Join the Club!

Join our Signed First Edition Club (or give a gift subscription) for a signed book of great literary merit, delivered to you monthly.

Learn More »