2017 Southern Book Prize

The votes are in! Southern indie booksellers have chosen the finalists for Southern Book Prize. Formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, the Southern Book Prize features an expanded list of categories – including seven different fiction and three nonfiction categories. Finalists were chosen by Southern independent booksellers from the long list ballot. The finalist titles will be sent to juried panels of booksellers, who will then decide on the winners in each category. Winners will be announced on July 4, “Independents Day.”

Searching for a particular 2017 Southern Book Prize winner? Type in any part of the book title or author's name in the box below and hit enter:

  • A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

    A wounded warrior and his younger brother discover the true meaning of Christmas in this timeless story of family bonds.

    As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it's the worst Christmas ever. His father's shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can't afford the dog he desperately wants. "Your brother's return from war is our family's gift," his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family strains darken the holidays. 

    Then Taylor's service dog arrives--a large black Labrador/Great Dane named Thor. His brother even got the dog When Miller goes out on Christmas Eve with his father's axe, determined to get his family the tree they can't afford, he takes the dog for company--but accidentally winds up lost in the wild forest. The splintered family must come together to rediscover their strengths, family bond, and the true meaning of Christmas.

    FICTION: Family Life | A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125539) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

    "Before he went to sleep in the clean bed in the room downstairs, Jonah asked himself whether he should continue running . . . It was impossible to know how safe he was. But Jonah was worn out from running, and he didn’t want to go on . . . He’d stop here for a few days or weeks and see what happened. If he was caught, he would be caught. He just didn’t feel like running any more."

    In his latest historical novel, bestselling author Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of Jonah Williams, who, in 1850, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born a slave. He takes with him only a few stolen coins, a knife, and the clothes on his back—no shoes, no map, no clear idea of where to head, except north, following a star that he prays will be his guide.

    Hiding during the day and running through the night, Jonah must elude the men sent to capture him and the bounty hunters out to claim the reward on his head. There is one person, however, who, once on his trail, never lets him fully out of sight: Angel, herself a slave, yet with a remarkably free spirit.

    In Jonah, she sees her own way to freedom, and so sets out to follow him.

    Bristling with breathtaking adventure, Chasing the North Star is deftly grounded in historical fact yet always gripping and poignant as the story follows Jonah and Angel through the close calls and narrow escapes of a fearsome world. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity. And it is Robert Morgan at his considerable best.

    FICTION: Historical | Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan (Algonquin Books, 9781565126275) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    The acclaimed, bestselling author--winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize--tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families' lives.

    One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny's mother, Beverly--thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families. 

    Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

    When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

    Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

    FICTION: Coming of AgeCommonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper, 9780062491794) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard

    Vivian Howard, star of PBS's A CHEF'S LIFE, celebrates the flavors of North Carolina's coastal plain in more than 200 recipes and stories.

    This new classic of American country cooking proves that the food of Deep Run, North Carolina--Vivian's home--is as rich as any culinary tradition in the world.

    Organized by ingredient with dishes suited to every skill level--from beginners to confident cooks--DEEP RUN ROOTS features time-honored simple preparations alongside extraordinary meals from her acclaimed restaurant Chef and the Farmer. Home cooks will find photographs for every single recipe.

    As much a storybook as it is a cookbook, Deep Run Roots imparts the true tale of Southern food: rooted in family and tradition, yet calling out to the rest of the world.

    Ten years ago, Vivian opened Chef and the Farmer and put the nearby town of Kinston on the culinary map. But in a town paralyzed by recession, she couldn't hop on every new culinary trend. Instead, she focused on rural development: If you grew it, she'd buy it. Inundated by local sweet potatoes, blueberries, shrimp, pork, and beans, Vivian learned to cook the way generations of Southerners before her had, relying on resourcefulness, creativity, and the traditional ways of preserving food.

    Deep Run Roots is the result of years of effort to discover the riches of Eastern North Carolina. Like The Fannie Farmer CookbookThe Art of Simple Food, and The Taste of Country Cookingbefore it, this is landmark work of American food writing.

    NONFICTION: Cooking | Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard (Little Brown and Company, 9780316381109) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

    From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class

    Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis--that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

    The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

    But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

    A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

    NONFICTION: Creative Nonfiction | Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (Harper, 9780062300546) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

    Award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Their powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humor, bravery, and love.

    "Lily and Dunkin is a delight. Here’s a book for anyone who’s ever struggled with being different--or anyone who’s ever loved someone who bears the burden of difference. Donna Gephart’s book is about trans children, and bipolar children, and their parents, of course, but what it’s really about is friendship, and the redeeming power of love. Crucial, heart-breaking, and inspiring.” —Jennifer Finney Boylan, author ofShe’s Not There, andStuck in the Middle with You

    Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. 

    Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. 

     One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change. 

    JUVENILE | Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Delacorte Press, 9780553536744) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks

    It’s 1939, and the federal government has sent USDA agent Virginia Furman into the North Carolina mountains to instruct families on modernizing their homes and farms. There she meets farm wife Irenie Lambey, who is immediately drawn to the lady agent’s self-possession. Already, cracks are emerging in Irenie’s fragile marriage to Brodis, an ex-logger turned fundamentalist preacher: She has taken to night ramblings through the woods to escape her husband’s bed, storing strange keepsakes in a mountain cavern. To Brodis, these are all the signs that Irenie—tiptoeing through the dark in her billowing white nightshirt—is practicing black magic.

    When Irenie slips back into bed with a kind of supernatural stealth, Brodis senses that a certain evil has entered his life, linked to the lady agent, or perhaps to other, more sinister forces.

    Working in the stylistic terrain of Amy Greene and Bonnie Jo Campbell, this mesmerizing debut by Julia Franks is the story of a woman intrigued by the possibility of change, escape, and reproductive choice—stalked by a Bible-haunted man who fears his government and stakes his integrity upon an older way of life. As Brodis chases his demons, he brings about a final act of violence that shakes the entire valley. In this spellbinding Southern story, Franks bares the myths and mysteries that modernity can’t quite dispel.

    FICTION: Literary | Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Hub City Press, 9781938235214) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • Redemption Road by John Hart

    Since his debut bestseller, The King of Lies, reviewers across the country have heaped praise on John Hart, comparing his writing to that of Pat Conroy, Cormac McCarthy and Scott Turow. Each novel has taken Hart higher on the New York Times Bestseller list as his masterful writing and assured evocation of place have won readers around the world and earned history's only consecutive Edgar Awards for Best Novel with Down River and The Last Child. Now, Hart delivers his most powerful story yet. 

    Imagine:

    A boy with a gun waits for the man who killed his mother.

    A troubled detective confronts her past in the aftermath of a brutal shooting.

    After thirteen years in prison, a good cop walks free as deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen…

    This is a town on the brink.

    This is Redemption Road.

    Brimming with tension, secrets, and betrayal, Redemption Road proves again that John Hart is a master of the literary thriller.

    FICTION: Thriller | Redemption Road by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books, 9780312380366) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham

    “In me, there is the red of miry clay, the brown of spring floods, the gold of ripening tobacco. All of these hues are me; I am, in the deepest sense, colored.”

    From these fertile soils of love, land, identity, family, and race emerges The Home Place, a big-hearted, unforgettable memoir by ornithologist and professor of ecology J. Drew Lanham.

    Dating back to slavery, Edgefield County, South Carolina—a place “easy to pass by on the way somewhere else”—has been home to generations of Lanhams. In The Home Place, readers meet these extraordinary people, including Drew himself, who over the course of the 1970s falls in love with the natural world around him. As his passion takes flight, however, he begins to ask what it means to be “the rare bird, the oddity.”

    By turns angry, funny, elegiac, and heartbreaking, The Home Place is a remarkable meditation on nature and belonging, at once a deeply moving memoir and riveting exploration of the contradictions of black identity in the rural South—and in America today.

    NONFICTION: Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir | The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham (Milkweed, 9781571313157) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

     

    The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him. 

    With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop. 

    Studying the body, Sara Linton--the GBI's newest medical examiner and Will's lover--realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim--a woman--who has vanished...and who will die soon if she isn't found. 

    Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city's most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world's most expensive lawyers--a man who's already gotten away with rape, despite Will's exhaustive efforts to put him away. 

    But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will's troubled past to the case...and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends--and even the suspects he pursues. 

    Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller--a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption.

    FICTION: Mystery & Detective | The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow & Company, 9780062430212) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

  • The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The bestselling author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is at her superb best in this fun-loving, moving novel about what it means to be truly alive.

    Elmwood Springs, Missouri, is a small town like any other, but something strange is happening at the cemetery. Still Meadows, as it's called, is anything but still. Original, profound, The Whole Town's Talking, a novel in the tradition of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Flagg's own Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, tells the story of Lordor Nordstrom, his Swedish mail-order bride, Katrina, and their neighbors and descendants as they live, love, die, and carry on in mysterious and surprising ways. 

    Lordor Nordstrom created, in his wisdom, not only a lively town and a prosperous legacy for himself but also a beautiful final resting place for his family, friends, and neighbors yet to come. -Resting place- turns out to be a bit of a misnomer, however. Odd things begin to happen, and it starts the whole town talking.

    With her wild imagination, great storytelling, and deep understanding of folly and the human heart, the beloved Fannie Flagg tells an unforgettable story of life, afterlife, and the remarkable goings-on of ordinary people. In The Whole Town's Talking, she reminds us that community is vital, life is a gift, and love never dies. 

    FICTION: Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners | The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 9781400065950) | BUY FROM AN INDIE