Katy Simpson Smith in conversation with Mary Miller for The Weeds

Tuesday, May 2nd · 5:30 pm @ Off Square Books | Katy Simpson Smith reads and signs The Weeds
Tuesday, May 2, 2023 - 5:30pm

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Two women, connected across time, edge toward transgression in pursuit of their desires.

Join us as we celebrate the new publication of Mississippi native Katy Simpson Smith. She will be in conversation with Mary Miller for The WeedsTuesday, May 2nd at 5:30 pm @ Off Square Books.

About the Book

A Mississippi woman pushes through the ruin of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. She has escaped her life, apprenticed herself to catalog all the species growing in this place. Crawling along the stones, she wonders how she has landed here, a reluctant botanist amid a snarl of tourists in comfortable sandals. She hunts for a scientific agenda and a direction of her own.

In 1854, a woman pushes through the jungle of the Roman Colosseum, searching for plants. As punishment for her misbehavior, she has been indentured to the English botanist Richard Deakin, for whom she will compile a flora. She is a thief, and she must find new ways to use her hands. If only the woman she loves weren’t on a boat, with a husband. But love isn’t always possible. She logs 420 species.

Through a list of seemingly minor plants and their uses—medical, agricultural, culinary—these women calculate intangible threats: a changing climate, the cost of knowledge, and the ways repeated violence can upend women’s lives. They must forge their own small acts of defiance and slip through whatever cracks they find. How can anyone survive?

Lush, intoxicating, and teeming with mischief, Katy Simpson Smith’s The Weeds is a tense, mesmerizing page-turner about science and survival, the roles women are given and have taken from them, and the lives they make for themselves.

About the Author

Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She is the author of the novels The Story of Land and Sea, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and one of Vogue’s Best Books of 2014; Free Men; and The Everlasting, a New York Times Best Historical Fiction Book of 2020. Her writing has appeared in The Paris ReviewThe Los Angeles Review of BooksOxford AmericanGranta, Literary Hub, and elsewhere. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is also the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.

About the Host

Mary Miller is the author of two short story collections and two novels, most recently Biloxi: A Novel (Liveright 2019). Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, Pushcart Prize XLIV, Norton’s Seagull Book of Stories, and the Oxford American, among others. She is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas and a former Grisham writer in residence at Ole Miss.

Praise For...

The Weeds is the story of secrets in plain sight—plants in the cracks of a monument, women’s lives rooted in spaces that provide them no sunlight or water—but this novel is anything but quiet or secretive. It is explosive and prismatic. Katy Simpson Smith writes everything from the microscopic to the vast, and in her hands the world is mean and darkly funny and outlandishly gorgeous. I will be recommending this novel to everyone forever.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of The Last Animal and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

“What a terrific novel! Strange, moving and marvelously alive, The Weeds works—like the eponymous flora that fills its pages—with subtle insistence and exuberant power to unfurl its ingeniously twinned stories of injustice, heartbreak, desire, and hope. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Laird Hunt, author of Zorrie

Event address: 
129 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
The Weeds: A Novel By Katy Simpson Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374605476
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 18th, 2023