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Jesmyn Ward's SALVAGE THE BONES wins 2011 National Book Award

Jesmyn Ward's excellent novel, Salvage the Bones, took home this year's National Book Award for fiction.  Ward grew up and currently lives in DeLisle, Mississippi.  She was the 2010-2011 John and Renée Grisham Visiting Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi.  She was also a Stegner Fellow at Stanford.  Her debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, received many awards and excellent reviews. 
Watch Ward's acceptance speech below (she gives a shout out to Mississippi Indipendent bookstores): 

“Ranchero” Hits On All Cylinders

We were primed to meet Rick Gavin on Wednesday, November 9.  His debut novel, Ranchero, published earlier this month, is set in the Delta.   Lisa had read an advance copy and was excited by Gavin’s “keen perception and gritty humor,” as she wrote in Dear Reader.  Randy Wayne White called the book “a kick-ass, backcountry novel.”   We thought that Gavin, described on the book jacket as a Sheetrocker and who clearly is either from or at some point has lived in the Delta, might be the next Larry Brown or Lewis Nordan.

Imagine our surprise when, at the scheduled time of the event, T. R. Pearson, who was to accompany Gavin, his friend and apparently something of a protégée, showed up alone.   He explained that as they were headed out of town Gavin, who’d had a rough night before and was “green around the gills,” had to stop at the grocery store “for a quart of milk.”  When Pearson got back to the car, he found Gavin unconscious in a shopping cart in the Kroger parking lot, and ultimately was forced to leave Gavin behind.

Pearson did an admirable job presenting Gavin’s book and told us how they had met – in a convenience store.  A nice crowd was disappointed not to meet Gavin, but the event was successful never the less.

Ranchero was featured in the November 12, 2011, Wall St Journal review, which called the book “irresistible,” and a “gritty, earthy, and often hilarious debut crime novel.  Ranchero has the humor of a tall tale told by Mark Twain, but beneath its comic bravado is hard knowledge of what the locals are up against.”

A limited number of signed copies remain available.
  We look forward to reading more work by Rick Gavin, and hope to see him at Square Books with his second novel.


New Directions was founded in 1936, when James Laughlin, then a twenty-two-year-old Harvard student, issued the first of the New Directions anthologies.  New Directions was intended "as a place where experimentalists could test their inventions by publication.  Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who once had difficulty finding publishers, were early New Directions authors and have remained at the core of ND's backlist of modernist writers.  Tennessee Williams made his first appearance as a poet in the early Five Young American Poets, which was published by New Directions.  Although New Directions started in the service of verbal revolution, it also reprinted Henry James, E.M. Forster, and Evelyn Waugh when other publishers would not; when no one would print F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Crack Up, ND did; when The Great Gatsby was out of print, New Directions brought it back. New Directions has published nearly 20 of Henry Miller's unorthodox essays and travel books and first printed James Joyce's Stephen Hero, Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, and brought back into print books of such importance as Gary's Promise at Dawn, Henry Green's Back, Joyce Cary's Second Trilogy, and Nathaniel West's Miss Lonelyhearts. This tradition is carried on today in our series of New Directions Classics. Begun in 1981, this series has brought back works by Sherwood Anderson, Kay Boyle and H.E. Bates, among many others, and introduced works by little-known European masters such as Eça de Queirós, Krleza, and Kosztolányi.

In addition, ND has relaunched many classics recently with introductions by contemporary authors: these include Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (Introduction by Arthur Miller) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Introduction by Edward Albee), John Hawkes' Second Skin (Introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides), and John Gardner's October Light (Introduction by Tom Bissell).

Its authors have won the Nobel Prize (Frédéric Mistral, Eugenio Montale, Pablo Neruda, Saint-John Perse, Octavio Paz, José Camilo Cela), Pulitzer Prize (Richard Eberhart, Selected Poems 1930-1965; George Oppen, Of Being Numerous; Gary Snyder, Turtle Island; Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire; William Carlos Williams, Pictures from Brueghel), MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (Walter Abish, Allen Grossman, and Ralph Manheim, translator), and the PEN/Faulkner Award (Walter Abish, How German Is it?; Toby Olson, Seaview), among many others.
New Directions authors inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters include Robert Creeley, James Laughlin and Gary Snyder. James Laughlin was the recipient of the American Academy and Institute Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts, the Annual P.E.N. Publisher Citation, and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature. In 1980, he was the first winner of the New York State Arts Council James Laughlin Award for distinguished achievement in independent publishing. Laughlin passed away in 1997.
New Directions now publishes about 30 books annually in hardcover and paperback.
(top photo, from left: Lyn Roberts, Cody Morrison, David Swider, & Richard Howorth outside Square Books) 


The second edition of the popular coffee-table book, Mississippians, is now available for pre order. The book profiles more than 350 Mississippians with more than 300 new photographs as well as tons of new features, including:

• The founder of the O. Henry prize
• The most decorated soldier in U.S. Army history
• The man who first bottled Coca-Cola
• The first woman to win a Pulitzer for Editorial Writing
• The man who taught Stephen Sondheim composition
• The first woman to own a major newspaper
• The world’s foremost physiologist
• The man who brought America reality television
• The youngest star on I Love Lucy
• The first American to fight fascism
and hundreds more.

 On Sale November 15, 2011. Click here to order. 


Ann Abadie Endowment for the Oxford Conference for the Book

Ann Abadie, a great friend to writers, books, and readers, and the longtime Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is retiring this year. To honor Ann, the University of Mississippi has established an endowment to support the Oxford Conference for the Book, which Ann, along with Richard Howorth, founded more than 18 years ago. We encourage anyone interested in the endowment to send a contribution to The University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677-0249 or contact Michael Upton at the Foundation, mupton[at]olemiss.edu or 662-915-3027. Contributors should write checks to The University of Mississippi Foundation, designating the check to the Ann Abadie Endowment number 05149. 







(Ann Abadie with Richard Howorth at a book-signing for Etheridge Knight at Square Books, November, 1979. Photograph by William R. Ferris)

Artist John Alexander is coming to Square Books

John Alexander will be in Oxford this September, and we urge you to check out his exhibit currently at the University Museums, “One World, Two Artists: John Alexander and Walter Anderson,” and to attend the opening reception there September 22.

Square Books will host a book signing and cocktail reception for the artist, featuring copies of the extraordinarily beautiful book, John Alexander, by Jane Livingston, produced for his retrospective exhibition at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and published by Yale University Press (Call 1-800-648-4001 to order a copy).