Grove Atlantic Publishing sent Richard Flanagan to Mississippi for the Oxford Conference for the Book in 2000 on his U.S. tour for The Sound of One Hand Clapping. Those were heady times. Larry Brown, William Gay ("Willie" to Richard) and Barry Hannah were all still with us. We found his writing powerful, affecting, and empathetic, while we found Richard to be humble, affectionate and simpatico. Since then, Richard has returned to Oxford for all but one of his six novels; each time building a larger reading audience and making more friends. It has been seven years since we had an event for The Unknown Terrorist, and we were anxious to welcome him back to his spiritual home in the United States.
To make it official, Mayor Pat Patterson issued a proclamation declaring Richard Flanagan an honorary citizen of Oxford and he was given a bag of the best tchotchkes our Tourism Office has to offer. Flanagan went on to speak eloquently about Oxford, about The Narrow Road to the Deep North and his father. The audience was visibly moved and many expressed thanks for the best reading they had ever attended. We are happy to be able to share videos taken during the event here and here. And we were thrilled -- but not surprised -- to find out on September 9th that The Narrow Road to the Deep North is named to the short list for the Man Booker Prize (see the finalists here). We are placing all bets on him.
The Fall 2014 Dear Reader is available for online viewing and is packed full of debuts from authors who are going to be visiting us soon such as Malcom Brooks with PAINTED HORSES, John Darnielle with WOLF IN WHITE VAN and Katy Simpson Smith with THE STORY OF LAND AND SEA. Plus, new books from favorite authors Curtis Wilkie, John Hailman, John Grisham, and Richard Flanagan, Richard Ford, Darcey Steinke, Frederick Barthelme, and -- for the first time here -- children's authors Chris Van Allsburg & Jon Scieszka.
Some nonfiction writers say they have a hard time writing fiction because they'd have to make everything up from scratch, while some fiction writers say they struggle with writing nonfiction because they have to stick to the facts and can't shape the story to their liking. You've done both. Which form do you find easier?
I don't think I really came into my own as a writer
until I started to blend the two for my novels. My first four books were
somewhat surreal, and it wasn't until I started using my background as a
reporter in my fiction that my stories took on an added dimension. My
fifth novel, White Shadow, really changed everything for me in
my writing style and approach to novels. I work much in the same way now
with my Quinn Colson books.
Why did you decide to write about the plight of the American soldier returning home after being at war?
My longtime editor at G.P. Putnam asked me to consider
developing a series character in contemporary times. Coming off four
novels based on true stories set long ago, I was searching for someone
specific to the South, where I live, and who offered an exciting story
to play out in future books...
Nearly forty years ago, an anonymous black man wandered in to Jerich, Mississippi, carrying nothing but a pair of black paratrooper boots. Days later, he was accused of rape and murder, and lynched by a vigilante mob. Now, new evidence has risen suggesting the stranger's innocence, and Colson sets out to solve the original crime and find the men responsible for the lynching. Confronting racial tensions still present in the Deep South, Atkin's new book is commentary on how far a close-knit community will go to protect its secrets.
Waldo has missed Oxford since his celebration last year and has decided to return this year to visit us once again. The famous fellow in striped shirt and black-rimmed specs is visiting 26 stores on the Square all through the month of July. From Amelia's to Amy Head Cosmetics, from Nest Paper Studio to Olive Juice Gifts, Waldo figures are showing up July 1-31. You can also find Waldo's dog Woof sniffing around Square Books, Jr. everyday. Those who spot them can win prizes, including buttons, books, and coupons.
Don't miss the Grand Prize Drawing Party on July 31 at 4 p.m.
Signed Copies Available
The past determines and haunts the present and future and Lisa Howorth presents a lyrical and powerful exposition of this fact in Flying Shoes. Mary Byrd Thornton is forced to once again confront a thirty-year-old crime that has traumatized her life and family while also dealing with a society that continues to struggle with cataclysmic change from its traditional values. Mary Byrd’s voice is distinctive, acute and perceptive in its observations and joins those who have created such a rich literature about the Mississippi experience. Somewhere, the ghosts of those writers are welcoming a new member to the ranks of the artists who have done so much to inform and bear witness to such a complex culture and landscape. BC