The Southern Bookseller Review: Celebrating Black Voices

The Southern Bookseller Review: Black Voices February, 2022

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February, 2022

Celebrating Black Voices

The special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review celebrates Black voices. Some new, some familiar, some whose voices come to us out of the past.

Among the books below is a debut novel by Brendan Slocumb which received so much…"buzz" seems not quite the right word for a story about a violinist…enthusiasm, let us say, that it was chosen as one of the five "Read This Next!" books for February by Southern booksellers. You can hear Brendan play here:


Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

The best of southern publishing…

Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander, Angela D. Mack


Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander
Gallery Books / February 2022

This book is a treat, about a strong woman who embodied the post emancipation strength that coursed through many in the bright years before Jim Crow. Kianna Alexander brought the real Josephine Leary to life in her page-turning book of historical fiction that leapt off the page as Josephine became a new wife, a landowner, a business partner, a working woman creating a family life, a visionary with business dreams and eventually a real estate legend. While she built this life she encountered love, other strong women, racism, heaps of sexism, love and lots of friends. Great book!

Reviewed by Kimberly Daniels, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, North Carolina

Kianna Alexander

About the Author:
Kianna Alexander wears many hats: doting mother, advice dispensing sister, and voracious reader. The author of more than twenty novels, she currently lives in her home state of North Carolina.



Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Falade


Black Cloud Rising by David Wright Faladé
Grove Press / February 2022

I’ve never before encountered a novel to plunge me into the heart of the Civil War like this. As the War still rages, a Black Union Brigade is formed of recently freed slaves. Dick, semi-acknowledged son of a slave and her master, is an honest and eloquent observer of slave-master relations. Now he fights for Gen. Edward Wild, leading the hunt for rebel fighters as he steels himself to clash with his former master. I felt all of Dick’s emotional journey as he progressed from slave to wartime leader and beyond. The Outer Banks setting for much of the action is beautifully portrayed.

Reviewed by Rosemary Pugliese, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, North Carolina

David Wright Falade

About the Author:
David Wright Faladé is a professor of English at the University of Illinois and the Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. He is the co-author of the young adult novel Away Running and author of the nonfiction book Fire on the Beach: Recovering the Lost Story of Richard Etheridge and the Pea Island Lifesavers, which was a New Yorker notable selection and a St. Louis-Dispatch Best Book of 2001. The recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award, he has written for the New Yorker, the Village Voice, the Southern ReviewNewsday, and more.

You Don’t Know Us Negroes by Zora Neale Hurston


You Don’t Know Us Negroes by Zora Neale Hurston
Amistad / January 2022

The gift of Zora Neale Hurston and her multifaceted works shine beyond decades. You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays covers the timelessness of her work. Zora Neale Hurston’s work holds an essential space in piecing the histories of America and the visibility of the lives of Black Folk. Hurston honors the language, spirit, and progressive movements that are exhibited in our history and heritage. This book gives us a deeper understanding of Hurston and her legacy.

Reviewed by Jasmine from Cafe Noir, in Memphis, Tennessee

Zora Neal Hurston

About the Author:
Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) was a novelist, folklorist, dramatist, ethnographer, and cultural anthropologist. Her many books include Jonah’s Gourd Vine; Mules and Men; Seraph on the Suwanee; Moses, Man of the Mountain; The Collected Stories; Every Tongue Got to Confess; Barracoon; and Dust Tracks on a Road. She is also the author of the bestselling classic Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Algonquin Books / February 2022

Readers will be stunned by the force of Kaitlyn Greenidge’s latest novel. Set in Brooklyn during the Civil War era and the turbulent times after, the voice of Libertie Sampson describes her unique childhood as the freeborn daughter of a Black, widowed female doctor. Libertie’s mother has aspirations for her daughter to follow her path and join her in her practice. Two things prevent Libertie from choosing this course: her darker skin tone lessens her level of acceptance in the community and she doesn’t have the aptitude for medicine. Rather than face her mother’s disappointment, she marries a Haitian doctor and leaves the country with him. She finds herself lonelier than ever in this tumultuous island country. This is a highly immersive and unforgettable literary accomplishment.

Reviewed by Damita Nocton, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, North Carolina

Kaitlyn Greenidge

About the Author:
Kaitlyn Greenidge‘s debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman, was one of the New York Times Critics’ Top 10 Books of 2016 and a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times and the features director at Harper’s Bazaar, and her writing has also appeared in VogueGlamour, the Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Substack, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Greenidge lives in Massachusetts. Her second novel, Libertie, is available now.


Spotlight on: The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb


Brendan Slocumb

"As a young Black man growing up in North Carolina and learning to play violin, I’d been put down and discouraged in every way imaginable from pretty much everyone. I was a skinny nerd; I was wasting my time. Quit playing that violin; go join the military. No other Black kid in my high school played violin, let alone classical music. But there was always at least one person, one encouraging voice, to keep me going. I was very lucky in that I always had a mentor, someone to look up to—or sometimes just someone who was happy that I was happy doing what I loved. "Brendan Slocumb (via Lithub)

The Violin Conspiracy

What booksellers are saying about The Violin Conspiracy

  • Beautifully brilliant, utterly original, and completely inspired, Brendan Slocumb authored one of my new favorite novels. The book touches on everything- race, dreams, doubt, love, mystery. I was hanging onto every word, desperately invested in Ray’s story, a young Black man who just wants to play his violin living in a world set to see him fail. The writing will have you rooting for Ray, getting angry on his behalf, crying with him, triumphing with him. ― Laney Sheehan from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC
    Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • There are so many captivating things about this novel…the insight the reader gets as to what it takes to be a classical musician, the background on the history of violins (and one violin in particular) and how they’re made, the main character’s determination in the face of struggle, family dynamics and expectations, racial issues that rear their ugly heads, and a mysterious theft of a priceless instrument…I could go on and on. Brendan Slocumb effortlessly keeps his story flowing, leaving the reader rooting for Ray McMillian while trying to put the pieces of the theft together. Such a great read! ―Mary Patterson from The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, VA
    Buy from The Little Bookshop

  • The Violin Conspiracy is listed as a mystery – and while the theft of a 10-million-dollar violin is at the heart of the book the story is so much more than the theft and who stole it. It is about music and how someone who is a true musician can forget the terrible things around him and just live for the music. It is a story about the violin itself and what it meant to a poor slave boy who was subjected to horrors we can’t imagine. And most of all it is the story of Ray and how his grandmother, his violin, his mentor, and those few who believed a young black boy could become a famous classical violinist helped him to become the man and the musician he came to be.   ―Nancy McFarlane from Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC
    Buy from Fiction Addiction

About Brendan Slocumb

Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in music education (with concentrations in violin and viola) from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For more than twenty years he has been a public and private school music educator and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. He is currently working on his second novel.

The Last Suspicious Holdout by Ladee Hubbard


The Last Suspicious Holdout by Ladee Hubbard
Amistad / March 2022

“I loved these interconnected stories. They are fiercely intelligent, warm in their own way, and absolutely absorbing. Hubbard has a deft sense of character and community and I really enjoyed piecing together the connections between the collection’s characters. Excellent excellent excellent.” -Roxane Gay


Ashleigh Bell Pedersen

About the Author:
Ladee Hubbard is the author of The Rib King and The Talented Ribkins, which received the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, the Times Literary Supplement, Copper Nickel, and Callaloo. She is a recipient of the Berlin Prize and was recently named a Harvard Radcliffe Fellow. She is also won a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Art Omi, the Sacatar Foundation, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Born in Massachusetts and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida, Hubbard currently lives in New Orleans with her husband and three children.

Parting Thought

"I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive. I can only change how they live, not how they think. "
― Ntozake Shange

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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