PAPER PLAINS: Sarah Smarsh

Paper Plains Literary Festival presents Sarah Smarsh, author of She Come By It Natural and Heartland. This in-person and virtual event is presented in partnership with The Commons at KU, the University of Kansas Honors Program, the Spencer Museum of Art, and the Hall Center for the Humanities at the University of Kansas.

All Paper Plains Literary Festival events are free and open to the public, a limited number of VIP Passes can be purchased here.

Saturday, April 9th, 2022 // Doors at 3:00pm // Starts at 4:00pm
at Liberty Hall // 644 Massachusetts St., Lawrence, KS, 66044
Can’t make it in-person? Register to watch live online here.

About the Book: Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Sarah Smarsh witnessed firsthand the particular vulnerabilities—and strengths—of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving.  In this “tribute to the woman who continues to demonstrate that feminism comes in coats of many colors,” Smarsh tells readers how Parton’s songs have validated women who go unheard: the poor woman, the pregnant teenager, the struggling mother disparaged as “trailer trash.” Infused with Smarsh’s trademark insight, intelligence, and humanity, this is “an ambitious book” (The New Republic) about the icon Dolly Parton and an “in-depth examination into gender and class and what it means to be a woman and a working-class hero that feels particularly important right now” (Refinery29).

About the Author: Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The New York Times, The Atlantic, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Harper’s and many other publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth (Scribner, 2018), was an instant New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Chicago Tribune Literary Award. Smarsh’s second book, She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs (Scribner, 2020), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A former Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and former writing professor, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality. She lives in Kansas.

Covid Attendance Protocol at Liberty Hall: Patrons must present a vaccine card with matching ID upon entry. Proof of vaccination can be a physical paper copy or a snapshot on your mobile device, along with a matching photo ID. Fully vaccinated status (2 weeks past final dose of vaccine) is required. For more info please visit their website at

Event date: 
Saturday, April 9, 2022 - 4:00pm
Event address: 
Liberty Hall
644 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044
She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs By Sarah Smarsh Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982157296
Availability: This book is in stock at our warehouse and will be at the Raven within 3-5 Business Days, once they've shipped it to us.
Published: Scribner - September 7th, 2021

In this Time Top 100 Book of the Year, the National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Heartland “analyzes how Dolly Parton’s songs—and success—have embodied feminism for working-class women” (People).

Event Category: