Southern Literature

Sybil Baker’s While You Were Gone is the story of three sisters dealing with their father's death and uncovering secrets about him and other relatives who have passed away. They grow up in a large house on beautiful Missionary Ridge overlooking Chattanooga, and their extended family is part of the city's upper class. But the sisters feel shunned, and slowly learn why their family is fractured.

Southern author Janie Dempsey Watts has written two novels: Moon Over Taylor's Ridge​ and Return to Taylor's Crossing. Both were set in North Georgia, the area where she resides. But she’s also spent decades in California and traveled globally. Her newest work is a collection of short stories, Mothers, Sons, Beloveds, and Other Strangers​, and the collection is divided, geographically, into three sections: stories set in the South, stories set in California, and stories in Europe.

Leah Weiss's debut novel If the Creek Don't Rise features an unusual storytelling structure: each chapter is told from one character's point of view, so the story is revealed through ten different voices. Set in 1970s Appalachia, it's about Sadie Blue, a pregnant teenager who must free herself from an abusive marriage, and about others in town--especially women--who help her. 

Copyright Rayon Richards

Chattanooga State received a $15,000 NEA Big Read Grant in 2016 to support a citywide reading project, and the first chapter begins Thursday.

Contributed/Ulf Andersen

Throughout the next few weeks, WUTC will interview authors coming to Chattanooga April 16th - 18th for the 2015 Celebration of Southern Literature.  Today Ron Rash joins us.  Rash is an acclaimed author of poetry, short stories and novels; much of his fiction takes place in North Carolina, where he grew up and continues to reside.

As second novels go, this one should prove a doozy. More than five decades after Harper Lee published her first — and, so far, only — novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee's publisher has announced that she plans to release a new one. The book, currently titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published July 14.

Two authors co-wrote the latest Tupelo cookbook: Elizabeth Sims, who is a food writer, and Brian Sonoskus, the executive chef at the original Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville, N.C.  The book centers on food from the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it explains how such recipes can differ from the usual Southern fare.  In this interview, the authors speak with WUTC's Michael Edward Miller about Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors From the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The cookbook is available at Tupelo Honey's

“Ninety percent of our existence is tangents. So tangents are actually the real plot. But even more importantly, if you avoid a tangent you normally would have taken, you could create a rip in the quantum fabric of the universe”.  –Serge Storms

Charles McNair's first novel, Land O' Goshen, was published in 1994 and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  McNair spent nearly two decades writing and rewriting his next book, Pickett's Charge.

Nominated for a 2014 Townsend Prize for Fiction, Pickett's Charge is the story of 114-year-old Civil War veteran Threadgill Pickett, who escapes from an Alabama nursing home and embarks on a wild, absurd, tragic quest for vengeance.

Author Karen Spears Zacharias has written for the New York Times and appeared on NPR as a commentatorMother of Rain, her sixth book and first novel, is Southern literature set in East Tennessee in the 1940s.

Random House recently published a new novel from Southern author (and Chattanooga resident) Susan Gregg Gilmore. She won acclaim for her first two novels, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.   The Funeral Dress is inspired by real seamstresses who worked at a Dunlap shirt factory in the 1970s.

In this interview, celebrated Southern author Dorothy Allison looks back on her novel Bastard Out Of Carolina, which was published more than twenty years ago (and was nominated for a National Book Award).  Readers discover (or re-discover) it every year--it’s both wildly humorous and shockingly brutal.  In this interview, Allison talks about using her own family legends as source material.  Allison also talks about leaving the South, teaching young writers, and discusses her long-in-progress new novel She Who.

Kentucky native Maurice Manning is in Chattanooga for the Celebration of Southern Literature (April 17 – 20), where he was inducted into the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Authors.  In this segment, Manning reads a selection from his new yet-to-be published book, talks about working Southern characters and narratives into his poems, and explains why he never met another living poet until he was in college.

Memphis native Katori Hall is an actress, writer and playwright.  She's won numerous awards, and her play The Mountaintop ran on Broadway, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.  Katori Hall is in Chattanooga for the Celebration of Southern Literature, which takes place April 17th, 18th and 19th.  In this interview, Hall discusses how The Mountaintop humanizes Martin Luther King, Jr., how she joined the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and what she'll be doing at the Celebration.

Grove/Atlantic published Barry Hannah, Charles Frazier and other celebrated Southern authors.  Now, Grove/Atlantic is adding Jamie Quatro to their roster.  Quatro’s debut collection of short stories, I Want To Show You More, comes out in March, and she visited WUTC for an interview.