The Southern Bookseller Review: Honoring Black Voices and Black Stories

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for February, 2023

View Online | Unsubscribe | SBR Archive | SUBSCRIBE TO SBR

The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

facebook  twitter  instagram 

February 2023

Honoring Black Voices and Black Stories.

Celebrate Black Voices

In honor of Black History Month this special edition of SBR celebrates Black voices and Black stories. Readers often talk about discovering new books and new writers, but the truth is Black and Brown writers and stories have always been a part of our literary landscape. It isn’t a question of "discovering" so much as simply listening to the stories they are telling.

Shop Black-Owned Indie Local

SBR exists to encourage readers to shop at their local indie bookstore, because those booksellers are part of, and invested in, their community. It is worth noting, however, that none of the bookstore reviews in this newsletter come from Black-owned bookstores. Like Black stories, Black-owned businesses are part of every community. Readers can find a map of Black-owned bookstores at (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Here are links to some of the stores in the South:

Pyramid Art Books & Custom Framing (AR)
Cultured Books (FL)
Pyramid Books (FL)
Rohi’s Readery (FL)
Wonders of the World Book and Toy Store (FL)
Erudite Encounters (FL)
44th & 3rd Bookseller (GA)
Brave + Kind Bookshop (GA)
All Things Inspiration Giftique (GA)
Onyx Bookstore Cafe (GA)
The Book Worm Powder Springs (GA)
House of Pages Bookstore (GA)
Good Books ATL (GA)
Only With Love Books (GA)
BookNerdFam (KY)
Baldwin & Co. (LA)
Baton Rouge Books (LA)
Community Book Center (LA)
Marshall’s Music and Bookstore (MS)
Pass Books (MS)
Shelves Bookstore (NC)
Liberation Station Bookstore (NC)
Boomerang Bookshop (NC)
Urban Reader (NC)
Turning Page Bookshop (SC)
Beyond this February (SC)
Bookshop at The Bottom  (TN)
Alkebu-Lan Images (TN)
Cafe Noir  (TN)
Books and Crannies (VA)
The Book Bar (VA)
Food Temptress Cookbook Store (VA)
Positive Vibes (VA)
Harambee Books (VA)
House of Consciousness (VA)
Urban Moon Books (VA)

The next time you decide you’d like to discover a new book, start by discovering a new bookstore.

“Discomfort is a necessary part of enlightenment.”
–Pearl Cleage

Read This Now | Read This Next | The Bookseller Directory

Read This Now!

Recommended by Southern indies…

A Is for Affrilachia by Frank X. Walker, Upfromsumdirt (illus)


A Is for Affrilachia by Frank X. Walker, Upfromsumdirt (illus)
University Press of Kentucky / January 2023

I have read many alphabet books, but this one is a revelation. Walker’s novel approach to the time-honored alphabet book creates not only a read-aloud treasure, but a resource for families. Parents can get as much out of this book as their children, so take your time with each letter. Savor each page. Explore the glossary at the end of the book. Reflect on your own gaps in knowledge and why they exist. This book is a jumping off point—the beginning of the conversation but definitely not the end.

Reviewed by Kate Snyder, Plaid Elephant Books in Danville, Kentucky

Frank X. Walker

Frank X Walker, the first African American writer to be named Kentucky Poet Laureate, is an artist, writer, and educator who has published eleven collections of poetry, including Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York, Expanded Edition; Masked Man, Black: Pandemic & Protest Poems; and Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which was awarded an NAACP Image Award and the Black Caucus American Library Association Honor Award. The recipient of the thirty-fifth Lillian Smith Book Award and the Thomas D. Clark Award for Literary Excellence, he is a founding member of the Affrilachian Poets. 


Upfromsumdirt is an award-winning artist who has galleried in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee and participated in curator Tewodross Melchishua’s traveling art exhibit entitled M3: MCs, Mics and Metaphors. His work has also been featured on the covers of African American Review and Tidal Basin Review, and he has created book cover designs for a number of authors, including Crystal E. Wilkinson, Dr. Adam J. Banks, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Keith Gilyard, and for his own chapbook collections, Caul & Response and Tangerine Tubman: A Long-Playing Poem. upfromsumdirt’s art or poetry has been featured online at Connotation PressAbout Place Journal, New Southerner, Accents radio program, and Nat Creole Magazine.

They Got Daddy by Sharon Tubbs


They Got Daddy by Sharon Tubbs
Indiana University Press / January 2023

, Cultural, Ethnic & Regional, African American & Black, History, Social Science, Race & Ethnic Relations, Adult Nonfiction

An unforgettable journey through racism and faith across the generations. 

From the book:

Granddaddy followed them toward the road, away from the house and just beyond earshot of Big Mama inside. When they reached that car, that’s when evil showed itself. The men weren’t looking for the Lord’s house. No yearning for worship abided in their hearts. And all that chumming about hounds and hunting turned dark. No dog barked from the back seat. Suddenly, they forced Granddaddy inside that car, their expressions turning mean, raw. Get on in there, nigger. He asked where they were going, and the barrel of a gun cracked his temple. One man pressed his head down, his cheek hugging the floorboards. There were four men now, two having waited in or near the car while the other two lured him there. They contorted his body to keep his face and gaze down. Passing drivers didn’t see Granddaddy in the car, and Granddaddy couldn’t get a good look at the other two men in the car.

When it comes to what happened next, relatives’ accounts vary slightly, with one sibling remembering something that another didn’t mention or couldn’t recall. Like tellers of the Gospels, each narrator focused on the scenes that struck meaning in their own hearts.

Sharon Tubbs

From the author:

"The stories of our past, mine and yours, peek at us from newspaper pages and court documents. They whisper through the traumas of our elders and ourselves, telling us that the "they" who "got Daddy" were not confined to four men in a car. No, "they" include the many others who allowed him to get gotten in the first place. "They" are those who sat idly by afterward, benefiting from the privilege that propelled tragedy to take place. Now these same stories, like ours, come alive again, not for unnecessary shame, but because they are the leavening agent for healing. The kind of healing that stirs each of us when we process the truth of our history. With true healing, we begin to taste true struggle and overcoming strength. We appreciate humility and fight for accountability. And, through our successes and our failures, too, we are girded by faith in something greater than ourselves."-Sharon Tubbs

"A gorgeous and haunting book, spun so carefully you can smell the dirt roads and the shirt starch and the bologna sandwiches. You hear the poetry in the voices of the characters. You feel how suddenly darkness drops and meanness strikes, and how steadfastly the family of Preacher Page leans on its faith. A triumph of reporting and storytelling."—Kelley Benham French, senior editor, USA TODAY and author of Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Maame by Jessica George


Jessica George, photo credit Suki Dhonda

I have conversations with myself every day. It’s just an easy way to get out of my brain. It’s a great tool for Maddie because it’s meant to highlight how alone Maddie feels. She doesn’t feel like she has people to talk to, so that’s where the conversationalist tone comes from. I think we see a little less of that by the end, because she has come to this place where she’s more open to being dependent on her friends and family. ” ―Jessica George, Interview, Everything Zoomer

What booksellers are saying about Maame

Maame by Jessica George
  • I stood up and clapped after finishing Maame. Maddie is a new favorite character, all the stars for this one!
      ―Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • You’ll absolutely fall in love with Maame, a coming-of-age story featuring a young British-Ghanaian woman who’s learning how to live for herself after years of looking after her sick father. Heartbreaking and magical.
      ―Maggie Robe from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Flyleaf Books

  • Maame will get under your skin with her naive outlook on life. As she comes into her own she will blow you away with her depth.
      ―Suzanne Lucey from Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC | Buy from Page 158 Books

  • Bridget Jones meets Eat, Pray, Love in this brilliantly written work of family, love, loss and self-discovery. Maddie (Maame), a twenty-something year old young woman living in London at job she hates, an overbearing mother who spends most her time in Ghana, and a father with Parkinson’s, begins on a journey of self discovery when she moves out of her parents house. Maddie promises herself that she will now begin a new life of dating, spending time with friends, and advancing in her career. However, things take a turn when she loses her job and her father passes away. Maame is a book for our times, as our main character faces dating dilemmas, racism, and loss all while using Google to help her through her hard time. Be prepared to laugh, cry and cheer for Maame.
      ―Sharon Davis from Book Bound Bookstore in Blairsville, GA | Buy from Book Bound Bookstore

About Jessica George

Jessica George was born and raised in London to Ghanaian parents and studied English Literature at the University of Sheffield. After working at a literary agency and a theatre, she landed a job in the editorial department of Bloomsbury UK. Maame is her first novel.

Time’s Undoing by Cheryl A. Head


Time’s Undoing by Cheryl A. Head
Dutton / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Inspired by true events from the author’s family, Time’s Undoing is the story of a Black journalist in 2019 investigating the unsolved mystery of her great-grandfather’s death in 1929 Birmingham. Told in alternating timelines, the novel explores racially-motivated crime, the lengths people will go to cover up the truth, and the powerful bonds of community, family, and love. This is a gripping story full of history, emotion, and suspense that I guarantee will be on my Best of 2023 list!

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

Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah


Wade in the Water by Nyani Nkrumah
Amistad / January 2023

More Reviews from Fiction Addiction

If you want to see racism from the eyes of a twelve-year-old, if you are interested in the complexities of racial divide and healing, and you want to read a compelling novel, Nyani Nkrumah has written a book for you. Wade in the Water shows how one little girl, Ella, is affected by the racism she experiences in the white and black communities. Her friendship with an older white woman, who is trying to make her own race reckoning, brings some surprises that you may or may not see coming. Nkruman shows the raw, emotional sides of her characters in a truly gifted way.

Reviewed by Linda Hodges, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Black Country Music by Francesca T. Royster


Black Country Music by Francesca T. Royster
University of Texas Press / January 2023

More Reviews from Flyleaf Books

Country music encompasses so much more than one would be led to believe by what’s being promoted and by what has been written and rewritten about countless times. Thankfully, Francesca Royster’s new book tells the story of Black songwriters/performers/fans in the white male-dominated world of popular country music. It’s a history that has been obscured, hidden, white-washed, overlooked and outright denied for way too long. This is a really fantastic and inspiring book that opens up a whole new world of country and folk music. If you think you know it all you don’t!

Reviewed by Colin Sneed, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire


Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire
Blink / February 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Come Home Safe is unlike any book I’ve ever read. Reading this book with my son opened up dialogue about an issue that is difficult to talk about but extremely important for everyone living in todays social climate. Buckmire does an excellent job writing about the importance of knowing the law and your rights and how beneficial that knowledge will be when interacting with law enforcement. I would recommend this book to parents and educators looking to have conversations about social justice. Excellent book! 

Reviewed by Keeshia Jacklitch, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter


Nell Plants a Tree by Anne Wynter & Daniel Miyares
Balzer + Bray / January 2023

More Reviews from Parnassus Books

Nell plants a tree and it grows into a base for games, a spot for reading, and a place for generations to gather. This beautiful picture book celebrates extended families and the delight of spending time together.

Reviewed by Rae Ann Parker, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

You Truly Assumed by Leila Sabreen


You Truly Assumed by Leila Sabreen
 Inkyard Press / February 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Reads

Filled with a neat balance of relatable humor and serious topics, You Truly Assumed is a memorable coming-of-age novel that touches on the struggles of three black, Muslim women and their fight to create a safe space and a voice to be heard for people just like them. You Truly Assumed is the perfect novel for teens or young adults who feel they don’t have a voice in the face of prejudice and fear, as it features funny, relatable characters and the raw effects of real events.

Reviewed by Makayla Summers, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow


Decent People by De’Shawn Charles Winslow
Bloomsbury Publishing / January 2023

Adult FictionAfrican American & BlackHistorical FictionLiterary FictionMystery & DetectiveSouthern
More Reviews from Main Street Books

The shooting deaths of two sisters and their brother, prominent members of the African-American community, set tongues wagging in West Mills, NC. Except for those holding their voice over secrets. Told from alternating perspectives, the mystery unfolds amid lives threatened by the racism and homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s. This is a great read on so many levels, can’t wait to hand sell this one.

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Parting Thought

“I’m a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people’s lives.”
– 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

SIBA | 51 Pleasant Ridge Drive | Asheville, NC 28805
You have received this email because you are currently subscribed to receive The Southern Bookseller Review.
Please click @@unsubscribe_url@@ if you no longer wish to receive these communications.

Scroll to Top