The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Short Stories (single author)

Nobody Gets Out Alive : Stories by Leigh Newman

This collection of occasionally-interlinking stories simmers with personalities hardened by the harsh wilderness, by the survival of the everyday and the illusion of escape. Some of the stories connect to follow a character from childhood through adulthood while others follow young women into motherhood, one frenetic event building into the next and illuminating a range of once-peripheral characters alongside them. The effect is absorbing, an abstract portrait of a community shaped by their landscape, remote and reckless, fissured and cruel and coping.

Nobody Gets Out Alive : Stories by Leigh Newman, (List Price: $26.99, Scribner, 9781982180300, April 2022)

Reviewed by Miranda Sanchez, Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

A September 2022 Read This Next! Title

Jonathan Escoffery’s debut If I Survive You chronicles an American immigration story full of hope, heartbreak, promises broken, and most importantly the constant struggle. Told in interconnected stories, If I Survive You addresses class, race, and economic disparity but is also funny. Mark my words, Escoffery is a rising literary star.

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, (List Price: $27.00, MCD, 9780374605988, September 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana

An August 2022 Read This Next! Title

Sidik Fofana’s first book is a series of connected stories written from the perspectives of the tenants of a residential building in Harlem. The chapters in Stories From the Tenants Downstairs are solely unique as each tenant’s struggles with rising rent cause different outcomes and each person tells their story in different formats and styles. This book shines a light on what millions of Americans are experiencing today: the exhausting, funny, desperate, and hopeful human experience.

Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana, (List Price: $26.00, Riverhead Books, 9781982145811, August 2022)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata

Murata, author of the 2016 indie hit Convenience Store Woman, is back with a collection of weird and weirdly relatable short stories. Cannibalism! Alien bodies! Distant worlds! Getting older, and more alone! These and other strange subjects are blown up to speak about the fundamental problems of living today. I especially loved "Hatchling," a story reminiscent of Osamu Dazai’s classic "No Longer Human," but with a feminist sensibility. Life Ceremony further cements Sayaka Murata as one of the world’s most interesting contemporary writers.

Life Ceremony by Sayaka Murata, (List Price: $25, Grove Press, 9780802159588, July 2022)

Reviewed by Conor Hultman, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell

Holy cow, I love this ‘un! I saw in Ben Fountain’s preface that the author discovered Donald Barthelme during a stint in a Texas prison (marijuana, meh.). Well, I discovered DB while dumpster diving, broke and living in an attic in Tallahassee, so dingdingding I checked it out! The title story reads like a great conspiracy zine from the 70s, about JFK’s assassination (including Jack Ruby’s shooting of Oswald) all being one elaborate work of performance art created by Ruby to introduce internationally acclaimed avant-garde art to stingy Dallas. But that’s just a preview for the main attraction. The bulk of the book is around 20 short stories that all revolve, in some way, around a beer bar (you want liquor, you gotta bring it yourself). The bar is a safe-ish haven in the belly of the beast (1960s Dallas) that lives in the mouth of the king of beasts (anytime Texas). Every style of story lives inside this collection. I’d say it’s equal parts Donald Barthelme, Terry Allen and W.G. Sebald. It comes out in November and I will be talking this one up a ship ton! That’s right: tonnage is different on ships. A ship ton different!

Jack Ruby and the Origins of the Avant-Garde in Dallas by Robert Trammell, (List Price: $16.95, Deep Vellum Publishing, 9781646050499, December 2021)

Reviewed by Ian McCord, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King

A Fall Read This Next! Selection

I enjoyed every word in these brilliantly-written stories. Each story offered warm and immersive portraits of real, layered characters. Original, literary, human, and peppered with heart wrenching, high-stakes moments that jolt the reader’s emotions in the best way possible. A wonderful collection.

Five Tuesdays in Winter by Lily King, (List Price: 27, Grove Press, 9780802158765, November 2021)

Reviewed by Melissa Summers from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC


Hao by Ye Chun

Each story in Hao pulses with life—with all its pain and beauty—and the power of language to transform it. They all, in a way, revolve around Chinese women past and present and their entanglements with motherhood, migration, and trauma. Ye’s prose is searingly honest, paying close attention to those tiny gaps in relationships where loneliness and love reside, and the ways in which we try to bridge those gulfs with communication. Both meditative and fierce, these stories will hold your heart long after you close the book.

Hao by Ye Chun, (List Price: 26, Catapult, 9781646220601, September 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So

While the ghosts of genocide lurk in the heart of many of the characters in Anthony Veasna So’s Afterparties, what comes through in this beautiful collection is the liveliness, humor, love, and tenderness in every character navigating growing up, sex, loss, and family. A wonderful portrait of being a queer child of immigrants, bearing the weight of history, while trying to carve out a new way of life. Each and every story is a joy to read.

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So, (List Price: 27.99, Ecco, 9780063049901, August 2021)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

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