from Square Books

News from Square Books

Square Books' Mad, Mad Month of May

Mark your calendars for our event-filled month of May.


May 2Charles Eagles, author of the award-winning The Price of Defiance, talks about his new book, Civil Rights, Culture Wars (University of North Carolina Press, $34.95), in which the Mississippi school textbook banning of Mississippi: Conflict and Change and the subsequent federal lawsuit provide a landscape for this historian to delineate the fissures of Mississippi politics and culture.

May 11Yvette Johnson, born and raised in California, is the granddaughter of Booker Wright, who once was a waiter at Lusco’s, the famous Greenwood, Mississippi restaurant. When an NBC documentary film crew came through town in 1966 and asked him what it was like to live in Mississippi, his life changed at the moment he told them the truth. This loving memoir, The Song and the Silence (Simon & Schuster, $26.00), is the result of Johnson’s determined search for who her grandfather was, what happened, and why.

May 20 – Many here remember “The Encycloparty” of 1989, when we celebrated the publication of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Now we will celebrate The Mississippi Encyclopedia (UP Mississippi, 1,481 pp., $70), with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s editors, James Thomas, Ann Abadie, Charles Wilson and Ted Ownby and as many of the over 700 contributors who are here. “Speed lectures” begin at 3 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom of City Hall; reception and Monster Book Signing begin at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.


May 3 – Many of you now know Bill Cusamano here, who says that Brain Van Reet (a former Marine and recipient of a James Michener fellowship) has written a first book, Spoils (Lee Boudreaux, $26.00), that will be to the second Gulf War what Going After Cacciato was to Vietnam, and that this “…high octane novel immediately hits high gear and never stops accelerating straight through to its conclusion.”

May 15Edan Lepucki, contributing editor at The Millions and author of first novel sensation California, makes her first visit to Square Books with Woman No. 17 (Hogarth, $26). A single mom takes on a young nanny to help out with her not-that-much-younger son and the toddler daughter, and things get tense, comical and complicated in this “family noir.”

May 18 – With perhaps the most talked-about first novel of 2017, Omar El Akkad will make a first visit to Oxford, bringing his American War along. The story occurs 60–80 years from now, the Mississippi River is the Mississippi Sea, and the state of Mississippi, along with Alabama and Georgia (“the Mag”) have seceded. Lisa Howorth, who ain’t scared of nuthin, calls it “scary and compelling.”

John Grisham returns to Square Books

One of the more colorful aspects of Square Books' history involves the many book signings held here when John Grisham began writing books. These went from a family-and-friends affair for A Time to Kill, to lines going out the door, down Van Buren and around the corner at 11th St. beyond Harrison, requiring John to ice down his arm every few hours or so. Eventually this changed, and we now typically receive enough signed copies to satisfy orders from his (and our) faithful readers.

He will have a new suspense novel out this fall, but, come June 6, we will have Camino Island, and John Grisham will return to Square Books for a limited appearance on June 20.

For those of you are ordering (or have already ordered) signed copies of Camino Island, we will ask if you would like to participate in a raffle, a drawing of 200 names (by publisher's guidelines) whereby those selected may have the opportunity to get their copies of Camino Island signed in person. The drawing will be an open affair—we will not try to game the system. Here are the details:

  • You may still order and receive signed copies of the book, regardless whether you wish to enter the raffle.
  • Raffle winners will be notified May 22. Don't call us, we'll call you, please.
  • Raffle winners may get one or two (but no more) copies signed at the in-person event—only copies of Camino Island purchased from Square Books, no older books or memorabilia, etc.
  • The signing will begin at 1 p.m. June 20. Raffle winners may come to the main store beginning 9 a.m. to pick up your ticket. The tickets, valid for one person per ticket, will help us do the signing in an orderly fashion and to prevent people from having to stand in line too long.
  • At 5 p.m. raffle winners may return to Off Square Books to attend a live interview with John Grisham. At this event there will be no book-signing, etc. 

Camino Island opens with a Princeton library heist of valuable manuscripts, a charismatic bookstore owner (no, this resembles no one we know) whose sideline of antiquarian books might have a shady side, and a young woman, a struggling writer, who is hired by an insurance firm to find facts and play dumb. The recipe of interesting characters and a rollicking plot, sprinkled with literary treats, makes for Grisham at his best. — RH


An Unforeseen Life by Mary Ann Connell

When Mary Ann Connell was born, her father told the town: If it's a boy, I'll send up black smoke; if it's a girl, I'll send up white. The entire town of Louisville, Mississippi, saw white smoke billowing from the chimney, announcing Bill Strong had a daughter. This smoke--determined by gender--would come to define Mary Ann's life in ways none of them could have excepted. As a child, fire robbed her of a precious piece of her life. Later, Mary Ann faced a different kind of firestorm as she became one of the first women lawyers practicing in Oxford, Mississippi. An Unforeseen Life is Mary Ann's account of the many joys and trials of her life--from attending Harvard Law School with classmate Barack Obama, to serving as the president of a national association of university attorneys; from losing her husband to cancer to defending the wrongful termination suit of beloved Ole Miss football coach Billy Brewer. This powerful memoir is a funny, touching account of a life "most richly blessed," if sometimes in unexpected ways. The book releases on April 11th from The Nautilus Publishing Company and we'll have an event at Off Square Books at 5pm that evening. Click here to pre-order.

The Blood of Emmett Till

A large crowd waited patiently Friday evening, February 2, for Timothy Tyson’s arrival, when he gave a passionate, rousing, extemporaneous presentation on The Blood of Emmett Till and how Till’s brutal and unresolved murder, racism, and endangered civil rights are reverberating now in early 2017.   

Jack Smith, of Tupelo, Mississippi and the son of Robert B. Smith, the prosecutor in the Till trial, was in the audience with a scrapbook of related clippings and memorabilia, which he talked about prior to Tim Tyson’s appearance.

Timothy Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Professor of American Christianity and Culture at Duke, and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. 

Pictured below are Jack Smith (right) with the author (left).  We thank Tim’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, for publishing this important book and for sponsoring Tim’s appearance here in Oxford.  Signed first edition copies of the book are available from Square Books.