Archive for March, 2016

Richmond Times-Dispatch recaps highlights of Ross Howell Jr.’s Library of Virginia event

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken by Ross Howell

Michael Paul Williams of the Richmond Times-Dispatch offers a stunning interview with Ross Howell Jr. about the writing of the historical novel Forsaken. Williams noted that he “had the pleasure of introducing” Howell at the Library of Virginia. The piece includes insight from Howell on why he created the narrator Charlie Mears to tell the story of executed juvenile Virginia Christian, and the relevance of her story to the Black Lives Matter movement today.

Williams quotes Howell as having a moment in which he imagined Oprah Winrey interviewing him about how he as a white male could have insight into the person of Virginia Christian. Having created a character with which to view the story of the young girl’s trial and execution, Howell was able to further explore the affect of racism on whites as well as blacks in early twentieth-century America. He noted that the residue of that racism is still with us into the twenty-first century:

“Today, we have more young black males incarcerated than at any time of our history. … We’ve seen videos of unarmed black men and boys being killed by police officers with such frequency that it’s mind-numbing. Virgie Christian’s life and death were shaped by the fear and hate of one race for another. I saw it a half-century ago. And now, a century after the girl’s death, we see fear and hate are with us still. What I hope for this novel is that readers will take away empathy and the firm resolve to honor human rights and human dignity.”

The story highlights the research Howell did at the Library of Virginia and provides a link to the digital bibliography for the book created there. The bibliography is the gift of senior archivist Roger Christman, whose own insights into the history are beautifully captured in a recent blog posting on the Library of Virginia website.

Forsaken is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

Crooked Letter i named a finalist for INDIEFAB Book Award

Thursday, March 24th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South, edited by Connie GriffinNewSouth Books is pleased to announce that Crooked Letter i has been recognized as a finalist in the 18th annual Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

Each year, Foreword Reviews shines a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses, and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd. “The 2015 INDIEFAB finalist selection process is as inspiring as it is rigorous,” said Victoria Sutherland, publisher of Foreword Reviews. “The strength of this list of finalists is further proof that small, independent publishers are taking their rightful place as the new driving force of the entire publishing industry.”

Congratulations to all the contributors to Crooked Letter i and to editor Connie Griffin!

Crooked Letter i is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

Award-winning book Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot now available in paperback

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Eugene Bullard: Worlds First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly

The award-winning book Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly is now available in paperback. This first YA biography of the trailblazing aviator has garnered many honors. In addition to receiving two awards for YA literature — the New Mexico/Arizona Literary Award and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award — the book was acclaimed by Booklist magazine as one of the 10 Best Multicultural Titles for Youth in the Nonfiction category.

In recognizing the book for its award, Booklist noted, “The incredible story of Bullard, an African American pilot honored by the French yet shunned by Americans, receives a moving treatment here.” The magazine’s earlier starred review said, “Greenly crafts a moving, novelistic biography that portrays Bullard’s undying fortitude throughout his life. Meanwhile, the black-and-white photos, of everything from a teenage Bullard boxing to wartime aircrafts, add plenty of historical flavor.”

The story of pioneering aviator Eugene Bullard is known to military history and aviation enthusiasts, but is not as familiar to the general public. Eugene Bullard recounts Bullard’s story from his birth in 1895 in the segregated Deep South through his combat experiences as as expatriate pilot in World War I and World War II, to his return to America.

Kirkus Reviews said of the book, “Eugene Bullard had many fascinating adventures that will engage readers. A worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two world wars who overcame obstacles in difficult times.”

Eugene Bullard is available directly from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

Faye Gibbons wins Frank Yerby Award; inaugural award winner Ted Dunagan helps celebrate

Monday, March 14th, 2016 by Brian Seidman

Now we really have bragging rights! The Augusta Literary Festival named author Faye Gibbons winner of the 2016 Frank Yerby Award for her first young adult novel, Halley. The award recognizes Georgia authors whose work is distinguished by its literary excellence.

In the photo below she receives congratulations from another NewSouth Books author, Ted Dunagan, who received the Yerby Award in 2013 for the third in his popular Ted and Poudlum series, Trouble on the Tombigbee.

The Augusta Literary Festival honors the legacy of Frank Yerby, an African American writer born in Augusta, Georgia, who wrote many bestselling novels in the 1950s, including The Foxes of Harrow. We celebrate his life too.

Halley and Trouble on the Tombigbee are available from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

Chapter 16 lauds Crooked Letter i, honesty of contributors

Thursday, March 10th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South, edited by Connie GriffinChapter 16, the online literary review of Humanities Tennessee, continues the stream of praise for Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the South with an exemplary review from Beth Waltemath.

The review notes that the book’s title reflects the fact that “words are merely symbols for a reality more complex than we can write down,” and praises the contributors to the book for elucidating their personal experiences of coming to terms with their identities.

Waltemath concludes, “In their honest depiction of struggle to find selfhood and love, the best gift these stories give us is the permission to be who we are, no matter which crooked path it takes us to get there.”

Crooked Letter i, edited by Connie Griffin and with a foreword by Dorothy Allison, is a collection of 16 non-fiction narratives that reflect the distinct “coming out” experiences of a complex cross-section of gay, lesbian, and transgendered Southerners from all walks of life and at different stages in their lives.

Crooked Letter i is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

“Virginia Currents” Ross Howell Jr. interview yields rich insights into Forsaken research

Friday, March 4th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken by Ross Howell

A post of Ross Howell Jr’s interview with Catherine Komp of WCVE on the station’s “Virgina Currents” website includes links to archival documents the author used in researching his historical novel Forsaken.

Visitors to the site can learn what intrigued Howell about the 1912 murder trial that ended with the execution of African American juvenile Virginia Christian, and view letters and telegrams to Virginia Governor Mann asking that the death sentence for Christian be commuted. Included is one such letter from Charles Mears, the reporter who becomes a leading character in Ross Howell’s novel. Audio of the interview includes readings from Forsaken.

For anyone interested in Jim Crow-era or Virginia history or the way history informs a work of fiction, Catherine Komp’s story is a great resource.

Forsaken is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.