“The Woods of Fannin County” by Janisse Ray

Astounding as it may seem for admirers of Southern author, poet, activist Janisse Ray, The Woods of Fannin County (Janisse Ray, 2022) is her first time publishing fiction. Maybe more surprising is her anxiety over venturing into fiction. The Woods of Fannin County is an unfathomable story, and perhaps, fiction made it easier to tell […]

“Another World: Ballet Lessons from Appalachia” by Edwina Pendarvis

Ballet is probably not the first kind of dancing people associate with Appalachia, Edwina Pendarvis acknowledges in the introduction to Another World: Ballet Lessons from Appalachia. Yet for the twenty-four women Pendarvis interviews for this engaging book, ballet assumed considerable importance in their lives. The fond memories and photographs of ballet lessons gathered for this […]

“Ariel’s Island” by Pat McKee

Ariel’s Island (Southern Fried Karma LLC, 2020) by Pat McKee is a wickedly intelligent, provocative, and creative novel which checks all the boxes of a riveting legal thriller. A “Best Legal Thriller” winner at the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Awards, Ariel’s Island stars six-year associate Paul McDaniel. He is a one-time poor boy whose […]

“The Way of the Saints” by Elizabeth Engelman

Florida resident Elizabeth Engelman enters the ranks of praise-worthy novelists with more than a swirl of mysticism and a great deal of grace in her debut The Way of the Saints (Southeast Missouri State University, 2021). Her book is a compelling story of three generations of a Puerto Rican family struggling to survive cultural, historical, […]

The Official Southern Literary Review 2022 Holiday Gift Guide

Donna’s Picks For readers who liked Where the Crawdads Sing:  In the Lonely Backwater by Val Niemen For fans of graphic novels: The third in a series by Robert Gipe, Pop For Tony Soprano fans and fans of dark financial world fiction: Coyote Loop by L. C. Fiore For Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fans: The […]

“Hell of a Book” by Jason Mott

You’d think it would be easy to write a hell of a book review for a book titled Hell of a Book (Dutton, 2021). It isn’t. Jason Mott pulls off a literary magic trick that’s hard to define. Mott manages to swirl humor, imagination and lyrical language through the grim story of a Black child […]