Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Rod Davis, author of East of Texas, West of Hell, joins National Book Critics Circle board, continues to shine with writing, reviewing career

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 by Matthew Byrne

If you’ve read East of Texas, West of Hell, you will likely say crime noir is the specialty of Rod Davis. Considering it’s the second in a noir series after the award-winning South, America, you would not be wrong. But that statement scarcely scratches the surface where his talents are concerned. Davis is that rare writer who is a fine storyteller known for hisCorinas Way engrossing plot lines but whose books also manage to provide a heady, textured examination of culture and place. Corina’s Way, his first book published with NewSouth Books, won the prestigious PEN/Southwest Award for Literary Fiction and remains one of the finest works about the cultural gumbo that is New Orleans. Blending ethnic and religious cultures in a fine piece of Southern fiction, Corina’s Way is a “roller-coaster story” (Charles Ealy, Dallas Morning News) set in “a world most of us will never get to visit” (San Antonio Express-News) that “begs for a sequel” (Eric Nye, Biloxi Sun Herald). Kirkus Reviews wrote that the book is a “lighthearted but spicy bouillabaisse. In the tradition of Flannery O’Connor or John Kennedy Toole: a welcome romp, told in an old-fashioned style and with traditional Southern charm.”

You can be sure, though, that Davis isn’t resting on his laurels. In fact, he’s spreading the love to other writers through his excellent work as a book critic and journalist. See, for example, Davis’s expert and personal analysis of German author Uwe Johnson’s Anniversaries for The Baffler. “Of late, my eyes occasionally moisten, and I pretend it’s allergies,” he writes, describing how the massive Anniversaries left him emotional. “Who are these writers that try to reach us? What have they sacrificed to be famous, or even to be read by one other human being? What do they want to tell us? What do we want to hear? Uwe Johnson knew. It was his gift to us. The Great American Novel that came from Germany.” Wow. Did you ever want to read a massive German novel so badly? It’s this kind of incisive and moving criticism that led to Davis’s appointment to the National Book Critics Circle Board, a high honor indeed. We feel comfortable knowing that Davis is one of many hands on the wheel steering the future of American literary criticism.

Speaking of wheels, 2020 also saw the publication of Davis’s new book East of Texas, West of Hell, a neo-noir Southern crime epic that sees protagonist 1588384160Jack Prine travel across the South in search of a past lover’s lost daughter. Behind the wheel of his beloved Jeep, Prine finds that the truth is far more complicated than it might seem and that his ghosts are following him west. This thrilling and brutal tale has been recommended by D Magazine, the Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio’s Gemini Ink, all trusted cultural sources in Davis’s home state of Texas. Publishers Weekly calls East of Texas, West of Hell a “maelstrom” and a “crime powerhouse.” Don’t worry if you aren’t that familiar with Southern noir either, as Davis eloquently explains this exciting new subgenre in a piece for CrimeReads.

Forgotten fourteenth American colony subject of highly praised new book that corrects historical record

Monday, April 26th, 2021 by Matthew Byrne

The thirteen American colonies are part of our national mythos, a piece of patriotic lore inextricable from our very identity. A new book from historian Mike Bunn, by the name of Fourteenth Colony, offers compelling reasons to change our thinking. Fourteenth Colony covers the colonial period during which the British occupied the area along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, known as West Florida. This colorful account offers a fresh but comprehensive413-FC front cover 72ppi reappraisal of the history, describing life in the frontier colony, the political and military realignments that allowed the British to assume control, and offering perspective on why the colony is hardly ever discussed in the context of our country’s foundational history.

Praise for Fourteenth Colony has been strong and comes both from academics and historians writing about the founding of our country to publishing industry journals, such as Kirkus and Booklist, book reviewers, and others. Here’s a sampler of what is being said about Mike Bunn’s new history:

The Journal of the American Revolution: “Engaging and well written. A smart, well-researched book.”
Publishers Weekly: “An accessible and well-researched account. Bunn combines deep scholarship with vivid storytelling in this comprehensive record of the period.”
Samuel C. Hyde Jr., Leon Ford Endowed Chair, professor of history, Southeastern Louisiana University: “At last we have an easy-to-read book that corrects the long-embraced notion of thirteen American colonies rising in revolution against Britain… Impressively researched and well written.”
Kirkus Reviews: “An illuminating exploration of a chapter of American history most readers haven’t previously encountered.”
Library Journal: “An excellent, well-researched introduction to a long-forgotten British colony of America’s Revolutionary era.”
John S. Sledge, author of The Mobile River and The Gulf of Mexico: A Maritime History: “A readable and well-researched history of British West Florida has long been overdue. Now, finally, we have one thanks to Mike Bunn.”
William C. Davis, author of The Rogue Republic: “Combining groundbreaking research with mature judgments and crisp narrative, Fourteenth Colony will surely be the definitive work on one colony that somehow escaped becoming another stripe on Old Glory.”
The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger: “A history which Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi inhabitants ought to know… Fourteenth Colony is riveting history, warranting multiple readings to commit to memory insights into the colonial history of the Southeast.”Mike 2020 2

The author himself has joined in on the conversation as well. Q&As, interviews, and presentations with Mike Bunn include:

• WAMC Radio for Bob Barrett’s The Best of Our Knowledge
Mobile Bay Magazine
• Mississippi Department of Archives and History

Bunn continues to research and speak about the history told in Fourteenth Colony, and we expect to continue to share more news with you on this blog and our social media platforms. For more information, visit

NewSouth author, poet Jacqueline Trimble receives National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship

Monday, March 22nd, 2021 by Matthew Byrne

For the winter quarter of 2021, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Alabama institutions and artists $270,000, supporting the best and brightest creators in the state. NewSouth Books is proud to announce that Jacqueline Trimble, author of American Happiness, received twenty-five thousand of those dollars in support of the furtherance of her work as aTrimble cropped Lois poet. Chosen alongside the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and the city of Tuscaloosa, Trimble’s achievement as an individual is a remarkable one indeed. As she told Alabama State University, where she serves as a professor of English and chair of the Department of Languages and Literature, “The National Endowment for the Arts only bestows this award to poets every other year, which makes it very special and most important to me. While the monetary award is fantastic, the most important thing to me is the level of recognition and encouragement this fellowship gives me as a writer by having a jury of my peers choose my manuscript out of a total of 1,601 in a blind competition. This makes me feel that my long hours of writing poetry are worthwhile … Being named an NEA Fellow is personally awe-inspiring to me.”

Jacqueline Trimble has been a poet and educator for much of her life, working tirelessly to create and share the beauty and art of poetry with students and readers alike. Dr. Jennifer Fremlin, chair of Huntingdon 327-AH front cover 72dpiCollege’s Department of Language and Literature, had this to say about her: “Those lucky enough to have been students or colleagues of Dr. Jackie Trimble know that she is first and foremost a teacher, and her poetry is an extension of that drive to help us all learn to see the world as it is: unvarnished and truthful and painful and beautiful all at the same time.” This NEA fellowship enables Trimble to continue writing full-time without distraction, a gift to us as readers.

American Happiness, her award-winning debut poetry collection, was published by NewSouth in 2016. Alabama Writers Hall of Famer Honorée Fanonne Jeffers wrote this about the collection: “I longed for her kind of poetry, these cut-to-the-flesh poems, this verse that sings the old-time religion of difficult truths with new courage and utter sister-beauty.” To use the language of the pandemic, Trimble’s work is essential, and we should be grateful that she has received this NEA grant that will keep her writing in 2021 and beyond.

More about Trimble’s work and the award can be found from Huntingdon College and Alabama State University.

New Ben Raines release joins books by Brockovich, Thunberg on Booklist list of vital environmental publications

Friday, March 12th, 2021 by Suzanne La Rosa

Envirojournalist Ben Raines has been passionate about the natural world for his entire life, a good bit of which has been spent quietly exploring the Mobile-Tensaw Delta by boat. His new book, Saving America’s Amazon: The Threat to Our Nations Most Biodiverse River System, is the ultimate expression of that mission, as is evidenced in the book’s sweeping discussion about the environmental perils facing the delta and its many glorious companion photographs. The Alabama delta is one of our nation’s most biodiverse ecosystems — it has more species of insects and fish and flora and fauna than Colorado and California combined. Its abundant biodiversity has been recognized by many, including E.O. Wilson, considered the father of the field of biodiversity and the contributor of the foreword to Ben Raines’s book, and now Booklist too, which has named Saving America’s Amazon to its Top 10 Books on the Environment and Sustainability in 2021. Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association, writes that the book is among “the most clarifying and resonant books about environmental issues and sustainability” and that it “tell(s) the elucidating and affecting stories of endangered animals and places…”

Booklist isn’t the only outlet recognizing Saving America’s Amazon as an important new release. WBEZ Chicago’s Reset spoke with Raines about the biodiversity of the delta and how special the area is when compared with other ecosystems around the country. The author’s expertise about the flora and fauna of the Mobile area is on full display in this conversation with Susie An, so nature lovers should delight. Alabama’s top book reviewer Don Noble says that “Ben Raines is on his way to becoming a household name” and writes for Alabama Public Radio that Saving America’s Amazon is “gorgeous and impassioned … jaw-dropping.”  We certainly agree. For Raines, though, it’s all about the Delta. “Coming out in a boat in the delta, you may as well be in the Amazon,” he told Debbie Elliott on NPR’s Weekend Edition. “It’s just so seductive.” Most important of all is its preservation, and Saving America’s Amazon is an important call for us to take its future seriously.

So that every schoolchild in Alabama is familiar with the story of Benjamin Turner, a word about The Slave Who Went to Congress GoFundMe campaign

Thursday, February 25th, 2021 by Suzanne La Rosa

Benjamin Sterling Turner was enslaved in Alabama. Despite obstacles and hardship, Turner would overcome the odds and teach himself to read as a child. That literacy paved the way for Turner to become a successful businessman during the Civil War and the first African American representative in Congress for Alabama during Reconstruction. His story, one of bravery, perseverance, and dedication, has inspired some of Alabama’s most important figures, including Representative Terri Sewell. Rep. Sewell, in a visit to a Selma elementary school classroom, remarked that she stands on Turner’s shoulders. During that very visit, Rep. Sewell donated a copy of NewSouth’s illustrated children’s book about Turner, entitled The Slave Who Went to Congress, to every child in that school’s fourth grade. Inspired by her generosity, the authors of that book, Frye Gaillard and Marti Rosner, in partnership with NewSouth Books have launched a GoFundMe campaign designed to gift a copy of The Slave Who Went to Congress to every public elementary school in Alabama.


Turner’s story is told for children for the very first time in The Slave Who Went to Congress, a beautifully illustrated picture book that movingly describes Turner’s challenges and achievements. Few are the books about Turner. This true inspirational tale, lauded by many since its publication, will resonate with young readers, particularly those from marginalized and underserved communities. Thus was born the idea of crowdfunding the donation of copies to schools across the state. Please take a moment to consider supporting our campaign with your personal donation, and help empower a new generation of kids with the gift.

Dr. Alan Gribben, Twain scholar and longtime NewSouth collaborator, wins 2021 Eugene Current-Garcia Award

Friday, February 5th, 2021 by Matthew Byrne
The Eugene Current-Garcia Award for Distinguished Literary Scholar, named for the founding editor of the Southern Humanities Review, is a recognition sponsored annually by the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama. The award is given to notable scholars with Alabama roots or those who have made significant contributions to the study of the984b14_67dd9150e5d94a69b0399ada75adfdad_mv2 literary arts in Alabama. In terms of literary achievements in the state of Alabama, there is none as great as the Eugene Current-Garcia. It’s for these reasons that we are proud to announce that Dr. Alan Gribben has been selected for the award in 2021.
Dr. Alan Gribben’s achievements in the study of American literature are indisputable. A college educator for over four decades, Gribben’s devotion to the literary arts has led him to positions at three universities: University of California at Berkeley (1972–1976), University of Texas at Austin (1974–1991), and Auburn University at Montgomery (1991–2019). While teaching Gribben has contributed to scholarship particularly in the field of Twain studies as the former editor and publisher of the Mark Twain Journal (2009 to 2020). The co-founder of the Mark Twain Circle of America, Gribben has written numerous articles on Twain for journals such as Studies in American Humor and Western American Literature. His personal publications include Mark Twain on the Move and Harry Huntt Ransom: Intellect in Motion. In 2011, Gribben collaborated with NewSouth Books on landmark editions of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, editions that excised the racial slurs in those books for those unable to teach the novels without that change. These volumes have proven immensely valuable in ensuring Twain’s books remain on curricula in high schools and colleges.
Dr. Gribben’s scholarly efforts may have culminated in his recently published masterwork, Mark Twain’s Literary Resources, a project forty years in the research and writing. Volume I recreates Twain’s library in an effort to understand the creative inspirations for his work. Praise for Mark Twain’s Literary Resources has come from many quarters, including internationally, and includes this recent quote from Bruce Michelson of the University of Illinois, published in the Mark 72ppi 343-MTLR jacket v301Twain Annual: “The scope of his achievement, a project spanning half a century, will be self-evident to anyone who looks into Mark Twain’s life, work, and cultural adventures with any measure of seriousness.” Long assumed in the popular understanding to have been an unread and simple man, Samuel Clemens is proven to be a voracious and wide-ranging reader in Gribben’s amazing book. Volumes II and III of Mark Twain’s Literary Resources will be available from NewSouth Books in Fall 2021.
Our heartiest and warmest congratulations to Dr. Gribben for his winning of the Eugene Current-Garcia Award, a recognition he shares with fellow NewSouth authors Kirk Curnutt (All of the Belles), Frye Gaillard (A Hard Rain), and Sue Brannan Walker (It’s Good Weather for Fudge). We look forward to following Dr. Gribben’s contributions deep into his well-earned retirement.

Author Steve Suitts stirs up important discussion about school choice with publication of Overturning Brown

Monday, January 25th, 2021 by Matthew Byrne
Schools, like many of our most cherished institutions, face unprecedented challenges at the present time, with educators and schoolchildren among our most at risk of infection from the coronavirus, not to mention the related challenges posed by remote learning, which directly impacts the education kids receive. Now more than ever, our schools need us to advocate at the local, state, and federal levels, pushing for adequate funding and enlightened leadership. Unfortunately, COVID alone is not to blame for the entrenched problems our education system faces. Powerful figures working behind the scenes are doing all they can to divert much-needed public funds to private institutions, already primarily populated by white children from affluent families.

Rising in defense of public schooling is longtime public school advocate Steve Suitts, former executive director of The Southern Regional Council and founding director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union. His new book Overturning Brown explains how the rhetoric surrounding the “school choice movement” precisely echoes that of Jim Crow segregationists. Cries for choice, free markets, and personal liberty are smokescreens that obscure racism, classism, and discriminatory practices. 

Suitts (and his work) is appearing on media platforms all over the country, inspiring passionate objectors to this form of separate but unequal schools. Of particular import is an article by education historian Diane Ravitch that appeared in the New York Review, highlighting Overturning Brown as a source of key information for those seeking to understand this vastly important issue. Ravitch was also the host of a discussion with Suitts on the Network for Public Education, a recording of which is featured here. Steve was likewise a guest on WAMC Radio for the Best of Our Knowledge show in New York. A Q&A can be found from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and Public Funds, Public Schools allowed Sybil Jordan Hampton—an inspiration for Suitts in her efforts to advance school equality—to interview the author.

For more information, see Overturning Browns page on our website!

Author, filmmaker, and educator Ibrahim Fawal passes away

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 by Suzanne La Rosa

Ibrahim Fawal119055337_10158903011747009_7049757334110341055_n (1933 to 2020), Abe to his friends, was a writer, filmmaker, educator, and one of the most remarkable of NewSouth’s authors. Born in Ramallah, Palestine, he came to the U.S. to attend film school, after which he was the Jordanian assistant director for Lawrence of Arabia. His brother’s sudden death in Birmingham brought him to that city to look after the bereaved family, guide the family business, and become a U.S. citizen. But Abe’s heart was in art, and he began making films, teaching college literature and film classes, and writing what eventually became the PEN Oakland Award-winning On the Hills of God, a sweeping novel exploring the creation of Israel in 1947 from the Palestinian perspective. It and its sequel, The Disinherited, were published by NewSouth.

NewSouth author video sampler: A COVID-19 quarantine project

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020 by Matthew Byrne

Coronavirus has changed the landscape of book publishing this year, as it has changed nearly every facet of all our lives. In an effort to bring our books directly to you when you are probably spending more time at home, we seized the opportunity to ask our talented authors to read short previews from their books. We hope these videos allow you to engage with the writing world and our published books in a whole new way. Check out the links below for full videos.

Marti Rosner reads from The Slave Who Went to Congress

Kirk Curnutt reads from All of the Belles: The Montgomery Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wanda Lloyd reads from Coming Full Circle: From Jim Crow to Journalism

Rod Davis reads from East of Texas, West of Hell

Ken Woodley reads from The Road to Healing: A Civil Rights Reparations Story in Prince Edward County, Virginia

Frye Gaillard reads from A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope, Possibility, and Innocence Lost

William Alsup reads from Won Over: Reflections of a Federal Judge on His Journey from Jim Crow Mississippi

Julie Hedgepeth Williams reads from A Rare Titanic Family: The Caldwells’ Story of Survival

Julie Hedgepeth Williams reads from Three Not-So-Ordinary Joes: A Plantation Newspaperman, a Printer’s Devil, an English Wit, and the Founding of Southern Literature

Aileen Kilgore Henderson reads from Eugene Allen Smith’s Alabama: How a Geologist Shaped a State

Joe Taylor reads from The Theoretics of Love

Jacqueline Trimble reads from American Happiness

Jerry Armor reads from A Home for Wayward Boys: The Early History of the Alabama Boys’ Industrial School

Jennifer Horne reads from Working the Dirt: An Anthology of Southern Poets

Julian McPhillips reads from Civil Rights in My Bones: More Colorful Stories from a Lawyer’s Life and Work, 2005–2015

John Pritchard reads from Junior Ray

Clifton Taulbert reads from The Invitation

American Founders called essential reading by scholars, reviewers, and trumpeters alike

Monday, August 31st, 2020 by Matthew Byrne

The variety of individuals who have called American Founders a must-read are as diverse as they are distinguished. This recently released work of historical genius from Christina Proenza-Coles traces the impact African-descended peoples have had on the American continent, beginning long before the first English ship reached our shores. It is1588383318 this wide-ranging and unique perspective that led Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain, to call American Founders an “important work” that “offers an extraordinary, compelling new narrative of the African role in creating the Americas of the Western Hemisphere.”

We were thrilled to see American Founders named a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book Award in the category of history in June of this year. Even more recently, jazz legend and maestro trumpeter Wynton Marsalis surprised us by naming the book his personal favorite on the subject of freedom in a short video for his personal blog. What an achievement for American Founders! Marsalis expertly describes Proenza-Coles’s research and, not surprisingly, ties the significance of the work back to jazz.

Christina Proenza-Coles’s book was also the subject of a penetrating radio program for WYPR’s On the Record, Baltimore’s NPR affiliate. The author herself was a guest, offering insights and little-known stories from American history that show in what remarkable ways AfroAmericans have contributed to the character and early history of our country, including in the struggle for freedom and social justice.

Of course, history is still being made. The momentous events of this moment in the year 2020 place in bold relief the many ways in which African-descended Americans continue to shape our destiny, leading the charge toward a more equitable and just society. For more information, visit