Archive for February, 2008

NewSouth Books Profiled for Publishing With a Purpose

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

NewSouth Books and publisher Suzanne La Rosa have been profiled in the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, where La Rosa is based. In the article “Publishing with a Purpose” by Tamara Ikenberg, Publishers Weekly correspondent Edward Nawotka praises NewSouth as “a good example of a small, niche publisher, and they make a go of it in a publishing scene that is dominated by three or four national conglomerates.” From the article:

The house is doing well in a time when people are reading less for leisure, and major publishing houses are only interested in tried-and-true mega-selling scribes, such as Danielle Steele, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling or the newest wunderkind like Myla Goldberg.

“New York City publishers are taking the safer course,” La Rosa said. “It’s been hard for them too. What that means for us, is all the people who used to be published by major New York houses are looking for new publishers. I view that as an opportunity. We can acquire writers who formerly would’ve been published by Simon & Schuster. Now, if an NYC house can’t sell 50,000 copies of a book, they won’t be considered. There are a lot of extremely gifted authors who will sell 42,000 copies, and that’s where we come in.”

Publishers Weekly‘s Nawotka also praises NewSouth’s eclectic collection of titles. Most contain civil-rights or cultural-awareness angles, but they take very different forms.

The 2004 release Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent approaches civil-rights issues through a series of essays by such respected writers as Kentucky native and social historian John Egerton and civil-liberties attorney John Pollitt. [Note: A second volume, American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Peril and Promise, will be released this month from NewSouth Books.]

A more recent release, the 2006 novel Grievances, is based on a true story and was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning former Charlotte Observer reporter Mark Ethridge. It addresses Southern equality issues through the suspenseful tale of a newspaper reporter who sets out to find the truth behind the shooting of a 13-year-old African-American boy in fictional Hirtsboro, S.C. Ethridge, grandson of former Courier-Journal publisher Mark F. Ethridge, brings to the book an inside-newspaper humor and deft sense of the South …

“We want books that open a window on to a culture,” La Rosa said. “I love stories about communities, especially when you don’t know much about them.”

A NewSouth book that beautifully fits that bill is the Jewish-themed children’s book Shlemiel Crooks, written by Anna Olswanger and illustrated by Paula Goodman Koz. A clever twist on the Passover tale, Crooks was inspired by a 1919 newspaper article from The St. Louis Jewish Record, and uncovers St. Louis’ Jewish community in the early 1900s.

The new release Poor Man’s Provence by beloved Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson uncovers Cajun Louisiana and, as Johnson notes, is in the tradition of Peter Mayle’s 1991 best-seller A Year in Provence. That book is a true story portraying Mayle as a fish out of water in the south of France …

NewSouth also isn’t afraid to create political waves.

its 2006 book Ali Dubyiah and the Forty Thieves, by [John] Egerton, with its swirling gilded edges, looks like an ancient relic, save for the familiar, caricatured faces on the cover. It’s George W. Bush leading his insane-looking pals down a desert road. The doomsday fable is as creative as it is controversial. The “Bush King’s” cronies have menacingly funny monikers like Dick Chaingang and Donald Rumsfailed. Ali Dubyiah is not entirely kind to the Dems either. President Clinton is lasciviously labeled “King Zip.”

“I’ve known Randall Williams for a great many years, and when I decided to write that book — more or less in the heat of passion — I called Randall because he was the only publisher I knew who could possibly turn something around as quickly as that,” said Egerton, uncle of Courier-Journal theater critic Judith Egerton.

Read the full article from The Courier-Journal.

The full line of NewSouth Books titles are available from your favorite local book retailer, online, or at

Jackie Matte Lectures at Johns Hopkins University

Thursday, February 14th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

jackie021408.jpgJackie Matte, author of They Say the Wind Is Red, spoke on November 13, 2007 to a group of students at the John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in recognition of Native American History Month. Students enjoyed a lecture on Jackie’s experiences, and afterward she signed copies of her book.

The John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (CAIH) works with American Indian tribes to improve the health and self sufficiency of American Indian peoples throughout the country. Click here to learn more about the center.

They Say the Wind Is Red is available directly from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Steven Ford Brown to Speak in France on John Beecher

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Author and translator Steven Ford Brown will speak on his work editing the poetry of John Beecher in NewSouth Books’ One More River to Cross, at the American Threads: Forms and Reform North and South conference, February 5-6, 2009 at the Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier III, France. The conference aims to examine the link between the writing of Harriet Beecher-Stowe and John Beecher, tracing how these authors have been both included and excluded from the canon. For more information or to submit a 300-word proposal, contact Guillaume Tanguy ( and Vincent Dussol ( by September 30th 2008, along with a short biographical note.

Also at the university, Brown will speak with the American Culture Department on American rock ‘n roll, focusing on Brown’s current book Punks Among the Brahamin: History of Boston Folk and Rock & Roll Music, 1950-1985.

Brown has also accepted a position with the online journal Poetry International, working on U.S., Latin American and Spanish poets, including Jorge Carrrera Andra, who’s poetry Brown translated in the collection Century of the Death of the Rose. Brown will also give a Assumption College on Jorge Carrera Andrade and South American Poetry in April.

In addition, an interview with Brown, conducted by Professor Juan Carlos Grijalva, is forthcoming in a Mexico City literary journal. In the interview, Brown discusses Carrera Andrade, South American poetry, Mexican poetry (including Octavio Paz) and Brown’s own projects.

Century of the Death of the Rose and One More River to Cross are both available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

All Guts and No Glory Praised by Montgomery Advertiser

Monday, February 11th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

Auburn University Montgomery Professor Alan Gribben has reviewed Bill Elder’s sports memoir All Guts and No Glory in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. In All Guts and No Glory, Elder tells of his work desegregating the Northeast State Junior College basketball team in 1965, and the challenges he and his players faced during that difficult time. Writes Gribben, “Elder’s All Guts and No Glory deserves a place on the short shelf of highly readable coaches’ memoirs as well as (on a higher shelf) inclusion in the stack of titles recording the toll of breaking down color barriers to create the New South.”

From the review:

Initially Elder abided by stipulated racial restrictions in recruiting his players, but in his fourth season, the college president gave Elder the green light to racially integrate his basketball team. Elder began rounding up prospective black players, hoping to emulate Vanderbilt’s decision three years earlier to abandon athletic segregation. However, he soon found that while “Scottsboro was only about a 150 miles from Nashville,” in terms of the citizens’ willingness to accept change “it might as well have been in another country.”

Two of Elder’s black signees and their white teammates were immediately taunted and assaulted with fists outside a campus-area restaurant, and a mob stormed the school looking for black basketball players. Intruders broke into the black players’ house and turned on the gas stove. Members of the Klan became so increasingly bold in their attacks that the school’s registrar suggested, “as a friend,” that Elder tell the black athletes “it would better for them to go home before someone gets seriously hurt.”

Shunned at the faculty table in the school cafeteria, Elder found that his applications for other coaching jobs brought no responses. Reluctantly he gave up his coaching job and left for Tuscaloosa to study for a doctorate to qualify himself for athletic administration. Nevertheless, “I am convinced now,” writes Elder, “that one reason God placed me on earth was to coach at Northeast State Junior College and provide an opportunity for black athletes to get a college education.”

Read the full article from the Montgomery Advertiser.

All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and local booksellers.

Yellow Watermelon Author Ted Dunagan Interviewed on Writers Show

Friday, February 8th, 2008 by Mary Katherine

Ted Dunagan, author of A Yellow Watermelon, was interviewed recently by Joan Hetzler of Chattanooga, Tennessee’s WAWL radio program The Writers Show, a lively half hour program that airs once a month and entertains listeners through interviews, discussions, readings, drama and stories from writers.

A Yellow Watermelon tells the story of 12-year-old Ted who, while growing up in Alabama in the 1940s, shows enormous courage in befriending a black child and in stepping forward to expose the racist attitudes of the town’s leading citizen.

The Writers Show airs on WAWL 91.5 FM, on Sundays at 1:00 pm in the eastern Tennessee or Northern Georgia listening areas. You can listen online at the WAWL website.

A Yellow Watermelon is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite online and retail booksellers.