The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of 12 January, 2020

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January 12, 2021

Looking to the past to understand the present.

Anyone who turned on a television over the last week would have been hard pressed to avoid seeing the news coverage of the riot in the Capitol.

The first question anyone asks after such an event is "how could this happen?" Journalists scrambled to understand and provide some context for the mobs of angry people breaking into the Capitol Building, and one of the historical precedents they found was The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898. Pictures of that event may be familiar they appeared on news stations and news website articles.

1898 Wilmington Race Riot

The Wilmington Race Riot, also known as the Wilmington Massacre and cited as the only successful coup d'etat in the history of the United States, was an armed insurrection by white supremacists that violently overthrew a duly elected government and drove almost a third of the black population of the city out of town. Buildings were burned, and hundreds of people were killed.

As it happens, this week's Reader Meet Writer event features the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino, whose book about the 1898 insurrection, Wilmington's Lie, has just been released in paperback.

Zucchino will be speaking this Thursday at 7 PM, EST. You can register via your local indie bookstore, or, if your store isn't on the list, you can sign up here.

Here is what Rosemary at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC has to say about Wilmington's Lie:

Rosemary from Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe

Further reading about the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot:

The Marrow of Tradition by Charles Chestnut
Cape Fear Rising by Philip Gerard

More bookseller reviews at SBR:

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

Wilmington's LieWilmington's Lie with David Zucchino
Thu Jan 14th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

David Zucchino is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He has covered wars and civil conflicts in more than three dozen countries. Zucchino was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his dispatches from apartheid South Africa and is a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for his reporting from Iraq, Lebanon, Africa, and inner-city Philadelphia. He is the author of Thunder Run and Myth of the Welfare Queen.

Code Name HeleneCode Name Hélène with Ariel Lawhon
Tue Feb 9th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Ariel Lawhon is a critically acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, Indie Next, Costco, and Book of the Month Club selections. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, and a deranged cat.

Race Against TimeRace Against Time with Jerry Mitchell
Thu Feb 11th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Jerry Mitchell has been a reporter in Mississippi since 1986. A winner of more than 30 national awards, Mitchell is the founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. The nonprofit is continuing his work of exposing injustices and raising up a new generation of investigative reporters.

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

Yellow Wife


Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
Simon & Schuster / January 2021

| | |
More Reviews from The Little Bookshop.

Many of our favorite historical fiction novels move us to tears, compel us to turn pages, and tie us in knots over the fate of characters. All of these emotions are in play as we read Yellow Wife, based on the notorious Richmond slave jail known as the Devil’s Half Acre and its cruel master. We follow Pheby’s life, from her earliest years as a plantation slave, her journey to the jail, and her years as mistress and slave to the master of the jail and mother to their children. We watch as her desperate choices and will to survive and protect those she loves draws her evermore into dangerous situations. Her dreams of freedom, passed down to her by her mother, drive her and at times sustain her while living in such close proximity to the jail where she was witness to the depths of human cruelty. A powerful story not soon forgotten.

--Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre


The Beak Book by Robin Page
Beach Lane Books / January 2021

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More Reviews from Bookmarks

I love a book that takes an impossibly large topic (in this case: birds) and simplifies it in a way that allows a young reader to meet several different examples through one method of comparison (in this case: beaks). Each bird’s beak is introduced by explaining what the bird uses it for. It’s a great way to find out how birds are different from each other while still being super accessible. The illustrations are gorgeous and the two-page spread in the back that shows where each bird lives is a nice touch!

-- Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Better Luck Next Time


Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson
Custom House / January 2021

More Reviews from Itinerant Literate

First of all, the premise–Depression-era divorce ranches for wealthy women to wait out their divorces in Reno–is just wild. Second, Julia Claiborne Johnson’s voice is just so dang funny, and her characters are spot on. I love it!

--Itinerant Literate, Itinerant Literate Books, LLC in North Charleston, South Carolina

The Friendly Vegan Cookbook


The Friendly Vegan Cookbook by Michelle Cehn &Toni Okamoto
BenBella Books / October, 2020

More Reviews from Bookmarks

The Friendly Vegan is far and away my favorite cookbook of 2020! The recipes combine easy-to-find ingredients with simple instructions for page after page of go-to recipes every vegan should have in their kitchen repertoire. I have been making tofu scramble for years, and this morning tried The Friendly Vegan recipe, and my husband immediately recognized the elevated flavor combinations. I can't wait to cook my way through this cookbook!

--Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Into the Real


Into the Real by Z Brewer
Quill Tree Books / October 2020

| Science Fiction
More Reviews from Story on the Square

Into the Real deserves its own genre of gender queer science fiction. Main character Quinn’s life gets split into thirds after a run-in with the always present Coe in their post apocalyptic town. From leader of the resistance to a patient at a conversion therapy camp, Quinn finds themself in different situations but still with the same town, people, and questions. With each different life, they must decide what’s more important–living true to themself or blending in. With a revealing truth at the end, Quinn realizes what really happened to her hometown.

--Reviewed by Nannette Matthews, Story on the Square in McDonough, Georgia

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Winter 2021 favorites from Southern indies...

The House on Vesper Sands


The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell
Tin House / January, 2021

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

A sooty and shadow-filled Victorian London acts as a sentient backdrop to the sinister, dark, clever (and somehow even hilarious at times), detective mystery that is The House on Vesper Sands. As a reader, there were just so many sensory details and perfect moments of tension that made the world feel all the more real, and the discovery all the more haunting.

– Cat Chapman, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, FL

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Aoko Matsuda

In her recent essay on, translator Polly Barton wrote about what it was like to read Aoko Matsuda's underground hit, Where the Wild Ladies Are -- a ghost story collection that Barton calls "anti-scary."

"It is no coincidence," she writes, "that women treated terribly throughout their lives are then, in death, held up by living society as the epitome of everything that is terrifying (it should be stated that Japanese ghosts are, almost without exception, women)."

Where the Wild Ladies Are turns the idea of "scary" on its head using humor, compassion, and even redemption to challenge the reader's assumptions about what is really scary -- the ghost, or the circumstances that created her.

Where the Wild Ladies Are

What booksellers are saying about Where the Wild Ladies Are

  • Where the Wild Ladies Are is the future of feminist literature - a tender world where the women are so complex, even their afterlives are rich and layered. --Christy Rogers, Avid Books, Athens, GA

  • Where the Wild Ladies Are is an incredible collection of quirky, witty, and insightful stories. Matsuda’s keen observational eye and wonderful sense of surreal humor comes through in each and every story. --Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC

  • Funny, relatable and insightful, Where the Wild Ladies Are is a delightful read and exactly the book I didn't know that I needed. --Carl Kranz, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA

  • This collection is in parts spooky and heart-warming and belongs on every shelf. -- Faith Park-Dodge, Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC

About Aoka Matsuda and Polly Barton

Aoko Matsuda is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Yukio Mishima Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. Her novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married was published by Strangers Press in the UK in 2016. In 2019, her short story “The Woman Dies” was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.

Polly Barton is a translator of Japanese literature and nonfiction, currently based in Bristol, UK. Her book-length translations include Friendship for Grown-Ups by Nao-cola Yamazaki, Mikumari by Misumi Kubo and Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki. She has translated short stories for Words Without Borders, The White Review, and Granta. After being awarded the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, she is currently working on a nonfiction book entitled Fifty Sounds.


Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie Pappyland Interior Chinatown
No One Asked for This Who You Were Made to Be

[ See the full list ]

lady banks bookshelf

Parting Thought

“Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.”
– Jean Rhys

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
Advertising: Linda-Marie Barrett /
The Southern Bookseller Review is a project of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, in support of independent bookstores in the South | SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805

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