Archive for September, 2008

Fall NewSouth Books Receive Publishers Weekly, Library Journal Starred Reviews

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by Lisa Harrison

Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal for upcoming Fall 2008 titles do NewSouth Books proud. Publishers Weekly (August 18, 2008) featured The Yazoo Blues, a sequel to John Pritchard’s Junior Ray, one of Barnes & Noble’s Top Ten Sensational Debut Novels of 2005. Library Journal (August 15, 2008) featured The Wrong Side of Murder Creek by Bob Zellner with Constance Curry, a compelling memoir about Zellner’s role in the civil rights movement.

From the Publishers Weekly review:

In this insightful, laugh-out-loud follow-up to his debut novella, Junior Ray, Pritchard again indulges the profanely backwoods, occasionally backwards, voice of Mississippi “good ol’ boy” Junior Ray Loveblood. 

Between expletives and misanthropic digressions, Junior Ray reveals a lifetime of deep, unlikely friendships, even getting at an occasional truth in a humble manner that’s–as Junior Ray might put it–“as soft as a quail’s fart.”

Read the full review at the Publishers Weekly website.

From the Library Journal review:

Zellner’s memoir focuses on his experiences as a civil rights activist from 1960 to 1967. He tells a story that is sometimes horrific, always interesting, and ultimately inspirational about a white Southerner’s commitment to racial justice. 

Read the full review at the Library Journal website.

The Yazoo Blues and The Wrong Side of Murder Creek are both available at their respective links, or from your favorite local or online book retailer.

Dr. Regina Benjamin Receives MacArthur Foundation Genius Award

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation chose Dr. Regina M. Benjamin as one of twenty-five recipients of their $500,000 “genius awards.” The award, as described in The New York Times, goes to individuals “who are singled out for their creativity and their potential for making important future contributions.” Author Frye Gaillard wrote about Dr. Benjamin in his essay included in American Crisis, Southern Solutions, and he sent this statement regarding Dr. Benjamin’s award:

I was delighted to hear that Dr. Regina Benjamin of Bayou La Batre, Alabama has been named one of 25 MacAuthur Foundation Fellows for 2008, joining an astronomer, a neurobiologist, an urban farmer and a basketmaker from South Carolina. The $500,000 award, given to people who demonstrate what the foundation calls “exceptional creativity and promise,” will help Dr. Benjamin rebuild her rural health clinic, which was destroyed first by Hurricane Katrina and then again by fire. 

It was my privilege to profile Dr. Benjamin for the NewSouth book American Crisis, Southern Solutions in which a number of writers from our region searched the recent history of the South for lessons that could be of use to the nation. It seemed to me that Dr. Benjamin’s story — and her remarkable commitment to the welfare of her patients (among other things, she paid for their prescriptions after Hurricane Katrina) — offered powerful lessons for the health care industry during a time when so many people can’t afford what it offers.

Benjamin’s reaction to the grant, as reported by the Associated Press, typifies the assumptions of her work. She spoke of the destruction of her clinic and her patients’ reaction just after the storm. One woman, she said, whose family had been devastated by the flooding came by with a donation of seven dollars to help the clinic rebuild.

“If she can find seven dollars,” Benjamin said, “I can figure out the rest. The patients I treat have their own disasters. Hopefully this grant will help them in some way. It will be as much theirs as it is mine.” Such is Dr. Benjamin’s commitment to a small fishing village on the Alabama coast.

Learn more about Dr. Benjamin in American Crisis, Southern Solutions, available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

Bill Elder Remembers Coach Don Haskins

Thursday, September 11th, 2008 by Brian Seidman

NAIA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame inductee Bill Elder, author of All Guts and No Glory, remembers Coach Don Haskins, who died September 7, 2008, at 87:

My first thoughts when I learned of the passing of Coach Don Haskins, long-time basketball coach at the University of Texas at El Paso (known as Texas Western for many years), was that he was a true American hero. He was well known nationally for establishing a stellar coaching record of 719 wins and 354 losses, winning a NCAA National Championship, and being inducted into the NCAA Basketball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

Despite the significance of these accomplishments, I think that Haskins’ greatest achievement was having the courage to start five black players at a predominately white institution during the 1965-66 basketball season. Many colleges (especially in the South) had not even integrated their athletic programs at this time, much less considered starting five black players. For many of the schools already integrated there seemed to be an unwritten rule related to how many black players should be permitted to start a game. The rule was that you should not start more than “three black players at home and four on the road.” It was in this culture that Coach Haskins chose to do the right thing and start his five best players, regardless of skin color. In today’s culture this does not seem like a big deal but in the 1960s it was a radical decision.

Coach Haskins’ decision not only proved to be the right one on the court where his Texas Western squad defeated the all white University of Kentucky team coached by the legendary Adolf Rupp for the national championship, but it also proved to be one of the most socially meaningful decisions in the history of sports. The victory drew attention to the egregious racially exclusionary polices practiced in the world of college athletics and changed the face of the recruitment of black athletes across the nation.

Coach Haskins was a man of exceptional courage and integrity and will be greatly missed.

Bill Elder’s All Guts and No Glory recounts his efforts to desegregate college basketball in northeast Alabama in the 1970s. All Guts and No Glory is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.