The Best Southern Books of March 2022

My corner of Tennessee has gone from sunshine and 70s to snow and back again in the last few days, so I’m crossing my fingers that the spring stays this time! I’ve already added several of this month’s books to my warm weather TBR list. From Neema Avashia’s Another Appalachia about life growing up as a queer desi woman in the South to the Lousiana ravaged by climate change in Here Lies, these are the best Southern books of March 2022.

By J. Bailey Hutchinson
March 1, 2022

University of Arkansas Press: “In Hutchinson’s poems, which explore the substance of personal history, family attains the mysterious stature of folklore, while the vast worlds of nature and of the imagination abound with extraordinary creatures that likewise elude full understanding. For the voracious consciousness at work here, inheritance — what it means to be from a particular place and a particular people, no matter how one might strain against that — lies at the very heart of things.”

Another Appalachia:
Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place

By Neema Avashia
March 1, 2022

West Virginia University Press: “Another Appalachia examines both the roots and the resonance of Avashia’s identity as a queer desi Appalachian woman, while encouraging readers to envision more complex versions of both Appalachia and the nation as a whole. With lyric and narrative explorations of foodways, religion, sports, standards of beauty, social media, gun culture, and more, Another Appalachia mixes nostalgia and humor, sadness and sweetness, personal reflection and universal questions.”

By Lee Cole
March 1, 2022

Knopf: “In the run-up to the 2016 election, Owen Callahan, an aspiring writer, moves back to Kentucky to live with his Trump-supporting uncle and grandfather. Eager to clean up his act after wasting time and potential in his early twenties, he takes a job as a groundskeeper at a small local college, in exchange for which he is permitted to take a writing course. Here he meets Alma Hazdic, a writer in residence who seems to have everything that Owen lacks — a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma — who comes from a liberal family of Bosnian immigrants — struggles to understand Owen’s fraught relationship with family and home.”

The Tobacco Wives
By Adele Myers
March 1, 2022

William Morrow: “After years of war rations and shortages, Bright Leaf is a prosperous wonderland in full technicolor bloom, and Maddie is dazzled by the bustle of the crisply uniformed female factory workers, the palatial homes, and, most of all, her aunt’s glossiest clientele: the wives of the powerful tobacco executives. Shedding light on the hidden history of women’s activism during the post-war period, at its heart, The Tobacco Wives is a deeply human, emotionally satisfying, and dramatic novel about the power of female connection and the importance of seeking truth.”

The Truth About White Lies
By Olivia A. Cole
March 8, 2022

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: “Shania never thinks much about being white. But after her beloved grandmother passes, she moves to the gentrifying town of Blue Rock and is thrust into Bard, the city’s wealthiest private school. As Shania grieves for the grandmother she idolized, she realizes her family roots stretch far back into Blue Rock’s history. When the truth comes to light, Shania will have to make a choice and face the violence of her silence.”

Here Lies
By Olivia Clare Friedman
March 22, 2022

Grove Press: “Louisiana, 2042. Spurred by the effects of climate change, states have closed graveyards and banned burials, making cremation mandatory and the ashes of loved ones state-owned unless otherwise claimed. With poignance, poeticism, and deep insight in Here Lies, Olivia Clare Friedman gives us a stunning portrait of motherhood, friendship, and humanity in an alternate American South torn asunder by global warming.”

Mothman Apologia
By Robert Wood Lynn
March 22, 2022

Yale University Press: “Robert Wood Lynn’s collection of poems explores the tensions of youth and the saturation points of knowledge: those moments when the acquisition of understanding overlaps with regret and becomes a desire to know less. Comprising poems of place set across the Virginias, this collection includes an episodic elegy exploring the opioid crisis in the Shenandoah Valley as well as a separate series of persona poems reimagining the Mothman (West Virginia’s famed cryptid) reluctantly coming of age in that state’s mountains and struggling with the utility of warnings.”

let the dead in
By Saida Agostini
March 26, 2022

Alan Squire Publishing: “Saida Agostini’s first full-length poetry collection, let the dead in, is an exploration of the mythologies that seek to subjugate Black bodies, and the counter-stories that reject such subjugation. Audacious, sensual, and grieving, this work explores how Black women harness the fantastic to craft their own road to freedom. A journey across Guyana, London, and the United States, it is a meditation on black womanhood, queerness, the legacy of colonization, and pleasure.”

Thresh & Hold
By Marlanda Dekine
March 29, 2022

Hub City Press: “What does it mean to be a Gullah-Geechee descendant from a rural place where a third of the nation’s founding wealth was harvested by trafficked West and Central Africans? Dekine’s poems travel across age and time, signaling that both the past and future exist in the present. Through erasure and persona, Dekine reimagines intergenerational traumas and calls institutions from the Works Progress Administration narratives to modern-day museums to task.”

Ancestor Trouble:
A Reckoning and a Reconciliation

By Maud Newton
March 29, 2022

Random House: “Searching, moving, and inspiring, Ancestor Trouble is one writer’s attempt to use genealogy — a once-niche hobby that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry — to expose the secrets and contradictions of her own ancestors, and to argue for the transformational possibilities that reckoning with our ancestors offers all of us.”