I tried to find a few that I thought you might not be familiar with. Here are some of my favorite books (with a southern accent)
Kate Vaiden by Reynolds Price – 0ne of the most feisty, spellbinding and engaging heroines in modern fiction captures the essence of her own life in this contemporary American odyssey born of red-clay land and small-town people. We meet Kate at a crucial moment in middle age when she begins to yearn to see the son she abandoned when she was seventeen. But if she decides to seek him, will he understand her? Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, Kate Vaiden is a penetrating psychological portrait of an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances, a story as joyous, tragic, comic and compelling as life itself.
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan – In Jordan’s prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion.
Jaybar Crow by Wendell Berry – Jayber Crow, born in Goforth, Kentucky, orphaned at age ten, began his search as a “pre-ministerial student” at Pigeonville College. There, freedom met with new burdens and a young man needed more than a mirror to find himself. But the beginning of that finding was a short conversation with “Old Grit,” his profound professor of New Testament Greek. “You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out—perhaps a little at a time.” “And how long is that going to take?” “I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.”
“That could be a long time.” “I will tell you a further mystery,” he said. “It may take longer.”
Lookaway, Lookaway – Wilton Barnhardt – Steely and formidable, Jerene Jarvis Johnston sits near the apex of society in contemporary Charlotte, North Carolina, where old Southern money and older family skeletons meet the new wealth of bankers, land speculators, and social climbers. Jerene and her Civil War reenactor husband, Duke, have four adult children–sexually reckless real estate broker Annie; earnest minister Bo; gay-but-don’t-tell-anyone Joshua; and naive, impressionable college freshman Jerilyn. Jerene’s brother, Gaston, is an infamously dissolute novelist and gossip who knows her secrets and Duke’s; while her sister, Dillard, is a reclusive prisoner of her own unfortunate choices. When a scandal threatens the Johnston family’s status and dwindling finances, Jerene swings into action…and she will stop at nothing to keep what she has and preserve her legacy. Wilton Barnhardt’s Lookaway, Lookaway is a headlong, hilarious narrative of a family coming apart on the edge of the old South and the new, and an unforgettable woman striving to hold it together.
The Night Train – Clyde Egerton – In 1963, at the age of 17, Dwayne Hallston discovers James Brown and wants to perform just like him. His band, the Amazing Rumblers, studies and rehearses Brown’s Live at the Apollo album in the storage room of his father’s shop in their small North Carolina town. Meanwhile, Dwayne’s forbidden black friend Larry—aspiring to play piano like Thelonius Monk—apprentices to a jazz musician called the Bleeder. His mother hopes music will allow him to escape the South. A dancing chicken and a mutual passion for music help Dwayne and Larry as they try to achieve their dreams and maintain their friendship, even while their world says both are impossible. In THE NIGHT TRAIN, Edgerton’s trademark humor reminds us of our divided national history and the way music has helped bring us together.
A Land More Kind Than Home – Wiley Cash – In his phenomenal debut novel—a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small North Carolina town—author Wiley Cash displays a remarkable talent for lyrical, powerfully emotional storytelling. A Land More Kind than Home is a modern masterwork of Southern fiction, reminiscent of the writings of John Hart (Down River), Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), Ron Rash (Serena), and Pete Dexter (Paris Trout)—one that is likely to be held in the same enduring esteem as such American classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and A Separate Peace. A brilliant evocation of a place, a heart-rending family story, a gripping and suspenseful mystery—with A Land More Kind than Home, a major American novelist enthusiastically announces his arrival.