The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of May 11, 2021

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May 11, 2021sbr logo

Bress 'n' nyam! (Bless and eat!)

Laura Dave

Laura Dave's new novel, The Last Thing He Told Me, was just picked as a Reese Witherspoon Book Club Selection, sending it rocketing up the bestseller lists. But before that, it was an IndieNext Pick, and a favorite among southern indie booksellers:

Propulsive, heart-warming thriller. Yep, you read that right. A ten on the can't-put-down scale, with gorgeous, complex characters. Devoured in one sitting; very satisfying. -- June Wilcox, M. Judson, booksellers & storytellers in Greenville, South Carolina

I found I couldn't put it down. With relatable characters and an interesting plot, it will be a perfect choice for summer's vacation - or staycation. --Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, Arkansas

The The Last Thing He Told MeGet ready for a fabulous exploration of motherhood, loyalty and love, all packed in a tense thriller. Bravo! -- Pam Crawford, Bookmiser

Meet the author tonight at Reader Meet Writer:
Tue May 11th 7:00pm - 8:00pm EST| REGISTER

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Coming up on the Reader Meet Writer Author Series:

Blood and Treasure : Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First FrontierBlood and Treasure : Daniel Boone and the Fight for America's First Frontier with Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Thu May 13th 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Bob Drury and Tom Clavin are the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of The Heart of Everything That IsLucky 666Halsey's TyphoonLast Men Out, and The Last Stand of Fox Company, which won the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation's General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award. They live in Manasquan, New Jersey, and Sag Harbor, New York, respectively.

If or When I Call with Will JohnsonIf or When I Call with Will Johnson
Thu Jun 3rd 7:00pm - 8:00pm | REGISTER

Will Johnson is a musician and songwriter who has played in the bands Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Marie/Lepanto, Overseas, New Multitudes, and Monsters of Folk. He also releases records under his own name, and makes paintings centering on the subject of baseball and its history. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction. He was born in Kennett, Missouri, and currently lives in Austin, Texas. If or When I Call is his first novel.

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies...

Bress 'N' Nyam


Bress ‘n’ Nyam by Matthew Raiford, Amy Paige Condon
Countryman Press / May 2021

More Reviews from Righton Books

Chef and sixth-generation farmer Matthew Raiford presents us with a deeply personal and refreshingly practical cookbook, with recipes rooted in his Gullah Geechee heritage and uniquely honed by his world travels and formal culinary education. Chef Raiford includes classic low-country dishes such as Shrimp and Red Gravy (served with grits, of course) and Chicken ’n’ Dumplings as well as his own takes on jerk goat, naan, and gelato. He also offers advice on hosting an oyster roast, and how to cook a whole pig for Georgia-style barbecue. Bress ’n’ Nyam (“bless and eat” in the Gullah Geechee language) finds the perfect balance between great Southern storytelling and recipes that are both accessible and mouth-watering.

--Reviewed by Anne Peck, Righton Books in St Simons Island, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Heaven by Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami

Last year, the English translation of Mieko Kawakami's novel Breasts and Eggs received so much indie bookseller excitement and praise that the "buzz" was more like a swarm. But her work has been highly acclaimed in Japan for decades. Haruki Murakami has called her his favorite young novelist -- and it was Kawakami who did a series of interviews with him over two years where she pointedly grilled him on on the misogyny in his novels.

The reception for Heaven, Kawakami's latest novel to be translated into English, has been just as enthusiastic. Heaven explores the meaning and experience of violence and the consolations of friendship. Bullied because of his lazy eye, Kawakami’s protagonist suffers in silence. His only respite comes thanks to his friendship with a girl who is also the victim of relentless teasing. But what is the nature of a friendship if your shared bond is terror?

"I try to write from the child’s perspective—how they see the world." says the author, "Coming to the realization you’re alive is such a shock. One day, we’re thrown into life without warning."


What booksellers are saying about Heaven

  • From the bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs comes this new novel that is once again storytelling at its best. Real, raw and revelatory, Heaven shares the story of two young people who are joined at a broken place and investigates the power of human kindness and friendship to help them move forward. -- Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
    Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • If you thought Breasts and Eggs was good (and I did), Heaven will be a fierce competitor. It's a fascinating mental examination into how one is to survive under terrible circumstances and how far one would go to break free from it. -- Easty Lambert-Brown, Ernest & Hadley Booksellers, Tuscaloosa, AL
    Buy from Ernest & Hadley Books.

  • What I appreciate so much about Kawakami is the strength of her voice, and her ability to convey the most basic aspects of human nature in a complex and thoughtful way. Pick up this book and then share it with everyone! -Kelsey Jagneaux, Tombolo Books, St. Petersburg, FL
    Buy from Tombolo Books

  • Heaven by Mieko Kawakami offers a blend of devastation and hope, exploring both the desolation of lonely adolescence and the beauty of friendship. -- Alex Brown, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
    Buy from Quail Ridge Books

About Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami is the author of the internationally best-selling novel, Breasts and Eggs, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of TIME’s Best 10 Books of 2020. Born in Osaka, Kawakami made her literary debut as a poet in 2006, and published her first novella, My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, in 2007. Her writing is known for its poetic qualities and its insights into the female body, ethical questions, and the dilemmas of modern society. She has received numerous prestigious literary awards in Japan, including the Akutagawa Prize, the Tanizaki Prize, and the Murasaki Shikibu Prize. Kawakami lives in Tokyo, Japan.

Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro, Christina MacSweeney (Trans)


Rabbit Island by Elvira Navarro, Christina MacSweeney (Trans)
Two Lines Press / February 2021

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

We are undoubtedly experiencing a golden age of surreal fiction, much of it translated, and the best of it written by women. For short story junkies like myself it is a particularly good time to be stuck at home avoiding other humans. Each story in this amazing collection connects with me viscerally, yet each one connects differently, like a smell, a taste, or a texture. Some are mysterious and subtle while others are brazen and bold, grotesque even. Each one is exquisitely crafted and exhilarating to read!

--Reviewed by Tony Peltier, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina



Pumpkin by Julie Murphy
Balzer + Bray / May 2021

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Waylon can’t wait to start his post-high school life. Being a fat, gay teen in a small Texas town has been tough, but he’s always had his best friend slash sister to help him through it. So when he gets dumped and also finds out that his sister is bailing on their college plans to go to a school in Georgia, he’s upset, to say the least. But after he’s disappointed with the ending of his favorite reality tv show about drag queens, when the fat queen is once again snubbed, he makes his own video to send in. But when the video gets spread around school, he thinks his life is over. Little does he know…Julie Murphy, how do you keep doing this to me? Every single book ends and I just feel uplifted and happy! Every bit of goodness in the world is packed into a Julie Murphy book and if you don’t read them, you’re missing out.

--Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz


The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Celadon Books / May 2021

More Reviews from McIntyre's

What a fascinating and eclectic novel this is! It starts out as a sardonic look at the writing life, the trials and tribulations that all but the biggest best sellers face. Our guide is Jake Bonner, erstwhile golden, now a down on his luck teacher at a third rate MFA program. That is until he meets a student who has an idea that will storm the literary world. An idea that dies with the student shortly after until Jake resurrects it and changes his life forever. From there it morphs into thriller land while exploring such themes as cultural appropriation, the ethics of borrowing, and what is an idea and who does it belong too, as whiffs of Stephen King (Misery), John Boyne (A Ladder to the Sky) trail through the pages while she name drops Marilynne Robinson and others. This is going to be a fun one to talk with others about and I can’t wait.

Reviewed by Pete Mock, McIntyre’s Fine Books in Pittsboro, North Carolina

All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus)


All of Us by Kathryn Erskine, Alexandra Boiger (Illus)
Philomel Books / May 2021

More Reviews from Bookmarks

This book would make a great bedtime story! I loved the pictures and the simple message of appreciating everyone’s unique contribution to the world.

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

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies...

Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber


Secrets of Happiness by Joan Silber
Counterpoint / May 2021

More Reviews from Malaprop's

A Spring 2021 Read This Next! Title

The characters in Joan Silber’s big-hearted new novel find happiness in mostly small and incremental ways that feel entirely true and resonate with the quiet power of relationship. I was immediately invested in the lives of this extended family-of-sorts, starting and ending with Ethan, a gay lawyer whose father is discovered to have a second family, acquired during his business travels to Asia. In between we meet people whose lives loosely intersect as they travel, figuratively and literally, towards their own versions of joy. Silber’s craft in linking her characters and her themes—connection, openheartedness, money—is seamless, but it’s her great gift for empathy that is sure to make this one of my favorite reads of this year.

– Clara Boza from Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC

Southern Bestsellers

What's popular this week with Southern Readers.

Whereabouts The Bomber Mafia The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Braided Sweetgrass Firekeeper's Daughter

[ See the full list ]

lady banks bookshelf

Parting Thought

"You may have tangible wealth untold; caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be. I had a mother who read to me. "—Strickland Gillian

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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