The Southern Bookseller Review 5/9/23

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for the week of May 9, 2023

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The week of May 9, 2023

Booksellers on The Pulitzers

Pulitzer Prize

This week the winners of the 2023 Pulitzer Prizes were announced, including, unusually, two winners for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Both books should be familiar to SBR readers. They have regularly appeared on the Southern indie bestseller list. And they both have frequently been reviewed and recommended by Southern indie booksellers:

Demon Copperhead by Barbara KingsolverDemon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver’s Demon Copperhead is a brilliant retelling of the David Copperfield story from the perspective of the poor son of a teenage mother living in rural Appalachia. From the first sentence, Demon’s voice grabs us and takes us on an unforgettable journey through his early life. This novel about a resilient boy develops empathy for families and children so frequently dismissed in the national discourse. It is a masterful American story.
– Lia Lent from Wordsworth Books in Little Rock, AR

A novel drenched in sorrow, survival, and possibly sobriety. The later never to be a foregone conclusion as anyone with the fresh wounds or long-healed scars of addiction can attest to. What I am certain of is Barbara Kingsolver has written a masterpiece of 21st Century Appalachia.
– Berkley McDaniel from Reclaimed Bookstore DBA Shelf Life Books in Richmond, VA

Trust by Hernan DiazTrust by Hernan Diaz

Reading Trust feels like seeing a flower bloom: as it opens more and more, it grows in captivating brilliance, and, at its core, reveals a powerful mediation about power and the very nature of truth. The elegance of the style is transportive. With his second novel Diaz proves to be a master of subversion and humanism and one of my favorite writers.
– Luis Correa from Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

Reading Hernan Diaz’s Trust is like watching that one Olympic sport that appears to be a triathlon but then the athletes start doing archery and fencing–just when you think you know what you’re reading, it becomes something even more impressive and unexpected. I’m obsessed.
– Lindsay Lynch from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN

Read This Now | Read This Next | Book Buzz | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

Summer on Sag Harbor by Sunny Hostin


Summer on Sag Harbor by Sunny Hostin
William Morrow / May 2023

More Reviews from The Main Street Books

I’ve been impatiently waiting for the second book in Sunny Hostin’s Oak Bluff series! Summer on the Bluffs left me wanting more of the drama, secrets, and jealousy from the three goddaughters of the iconic Ama and Omar. This is Olivia’s story, set once again in an exclusive Black beach community in the North East, this time it’s The Hamptons. I’m sure it won’t disappoint!

Reviewed by Andrea Jasmin, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Good Men by Arnon Grunberg


Good Men by Arnon Grunberg
Open Letter / May 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

For a book that claims to “chart the downfall” of its protagonist, I knew the ride I was potentially in for. However, the end of the book seems to kick the reader down a notch as well. The trainwreck rubbernecker in me really loved the first 3/4ths of this one: just-a-guy, content with his simple job, generic work friends, paint-by-most-numbers marriage and run-of-the-offbrand-mill child(ren), marking off each on his failure checklist. These tragedies are handled in such off kilter ways, laced with a stealthy wit, to keep the story fresh and engaging without the need to step it up to a fast pace. And though I didn’t NOT like the final quarter, where people are just plain disgusting (the reader just as lackadaisically unobservant as our “hero” to the clues displayed throughout), the final lap just felt like the author rubbing your face in the filth of life. But then again, the book’s a self-proclaimed downfall chart. Please watch your feet as you exit the ride.

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst


Tembe Denton-Hurst, photo credit Emma Trimm

I went from believing I was an undisciplined person to writing every single morning before work for an hour and eventually finishing a manuscript. I had to start telling a different story about myself because it took some level of consistency and commitment to be able to achieve that. It was also incredibly vulnerable. There was no magazine to hide behind that people already loved and trusted. It was just me and my words. ―Tembe Denton-Hurst, Interview, Morning Person

What booksellers are saying about Homebodies

Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst
  • A searing yet quiet novel that succeeds as a commentary on the racism ingrained within media content, as a relationship drama, and as a story of protagonist Mickey’s path to self-discovery and self-respect. Mickey is a completely believable and sympathetic character whose depression and every insecurity Denton-Hurst represented convincingly. And Lex and Mickey’s relationship troubles were handled so maturely and with such detail, I never really knew whose side to take, which is just what I wanted. A very full novel, but one that executes its various intentions very well.
      ― Sam Edge from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books

  • Homebodies is a fresh, relatable debut about Mickey, a writer whose glamorous position at a media outlet is taken from her with little warning, prompting her to express her feelings about racism in the industry on Twitter–to little response. In the wake of her "failure", Mickey struggles to keep up with her life in New York, feeling like a burden to her partner and a disappointment to her community. Seeking a break, Mickey returns home to Maryland to recalibrate and ends up questioning the life she’s created for herself, especially after running into an old flame. Funny, vibrant, and real!
      ―Julia Lewis from Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA | Buy from Fountain Bookstore

  • Tremendous! Mickey’s coming-of-age story is equal parts career decisions and relationship choices. She’s a Black woman in the publishing industry, a writer, who is also a queer woman. Mickey’s story will truly speak to those two populations but will be so relatable to many. And she touches on body image things. You’ll nod along, get teary-eyed, and oh … not to be forgotten, prepare to be heavily entertained with the intimate details! She checks all the boxes of a great book. I’m an official fan of Tembe!
      ―Andrea Jasmin from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • I absolutely loved this book! The attention to detail was immaculate. I loved the raw and touching emotion that Tembe Denton-Hurst portrayed. I was rooting for Mickey the entire time through her ups and downs. Denton-Hurst is a beautiful writer and cannot wait for more!
      ―Brooke Parrish from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • This debut novel is AMAZING and I want to put it on everyone’s radar. Tembe Denton-Hurst is a young talent to watch. A smart and incisive examination of being a young Black woman in the workplace, but also a story of returning home, growing apart from childhood friends, and family expectations and first loves. It is so clever and self-aware and I enjoyed every page.
      ―Kate Storhoff from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Tembe Denton-Hurst

Tembe Denton-Hurst is a staff writer at New York magazine’s The Strategist and has written for Nylon magazine, them, and Elle. When she’s not writing, Tembe can be found on her couch in Queens, New York, where she lives with her partner and their two cats, Stella and Dakota.

Pieces of Blue by Holly Goldberg Sloan


Pieces of Blue by Holly Goldberg Sloan
 Flatiron Books / May 2023

More Reviews from The Country Bookshop

Holly Goldberg Sloan has written the PERFECT beach book. With a little family drama, a handsome stranger who can rewire a crumbling hotel, a recent widow trying to help her three children find their place in the world, resident chickens, a beach ( of course) and a wicked twist that strikes out of the blue, Pieces of Blue begs to be in every beach bag this summer.

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Abortion by Pauline Harmange


Abortion by Pauline Harmange
Scribe US / May 2023

More Reviews from E. Shaver, bookseller

This is exactly what we need more of in the ongoing discussion around abortion; nuanced personal accounts of abortions. While Harmange makes no apologies for her decision to terminate her pregnancy, she does describe in clear detail the grief that accompanied her decision and the shame she experienced. The decision to end a pregnancy is never made lightly even when it is absolutely the right choice and it should not be an experience filled with shame that goes untalked about.

Reviewed by Melissa Taylor, E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, Georgia

No Perfect Places by Steven Salvatore


No Perfect Places by Steven Salvatore
Bloomsbury YA / May 2023

More Reviews from Bookmiser

Another new book by Salvatore and another five-star read. They’re three for three with this reader! Twins Alex and Olly lost a lot when their father went to prison. Their mom works all the time at three jobs, and most of their friends abandoned them. But they’re keeping together. At least, until their dad dies. Suddenly Alex is spiraling and Olly doesn’t know how to help her. Add in the complication of a half-brother they knew nothing about and it’s a recipe for disaster. Can they pull themselves out of this mess before one or all of them self-destruct?

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser in Marietta, Georgia

Simon and the Better Bone by Corey R. Tabor


Simon and the Better Bone by Corey R. Tabor
Balzer + Bray / May 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Just like Tabor’s wonderful Mel Fell, his newest picture book Simon and the Better Bone is a delight that plays with the very format of a book itself. A whimsical retelling of an Aesop fable, Simon gets into an argument with his reflection and soon learns where jealousy can lead. Vibrantly illustrated and simply told, Simon and the Better Bone is a perfect read-a-loud book!

Reviewed by Caleb Masters, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree, Vol. 1 by Nikiichi Tobita


Elden Ring: The Road to the Erdtree, Vol. 1 by Nikiichi Tobita
Yen Press / May 2023

More Reviews from Oxford Exchange

I knew that someone was writing a comedy manga around the world of Elden Ring, but I didn’t know it was going to hit this level of scale! Following the journey that everyone who played the game also had, except this tale takes the world and twists the situations into joking situations. Very clever idea. I hope this is able to be continued until the conclusion.

Reviewed by Ethan Davis, Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Florida

Read This Next!

Books on the horizon: Forthcoming favorites from Southern indies…

Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
 Pantheon / May 2023

More Reviews from Novel.

A May 2023 Read This Next! Title

Crushing like a hammer and sharp as a scythe, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a master class of brutality drenched in grace. From the first page, Adjei-Brenyah exposes our inherent complicity and demands a good, long look inward, and asks what we’re gonna do about it. It’s powerful, exciting, horrifying, and an utterly outstanding feat of contemporary literature. It’s speculative fiction that feels so close to reality that it’s shockingly unsurprising and brilliantly difficult to endure. Damn.

Reviewed by Carly Crawford, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Southern Bestsellers

What’s popular this week with Southern Readers.

The Covenant of Water  Tell Anybody The Secrets I Told You All the Light We Cannot See
Lessons from North Carolina Wishtree

[ See the full list ]

Parting Thought

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads..”
— François Mauriac

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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