The Best Southern Books of March

March means springtime in the South — even in the boreal forests atop the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee. This March, springtime brings a flood of new novels, poetry collections, and other books written by Southern authors and set in Southern states — particularly Mississippi, which boasts three titles on this list. Here are the 15 best Southern books of March 2020 according to our editorial staff.

By Michael Farris Smith
Little, Brown
March 3
Set in Mississippi

“A stunning Southern gothic thriller, laced with kudzu and soaked in dread.” —Adam Morgan

The Last Taxi Driver
By Lee Durkhee
Tin House Books
March 3
Set in Mississippi

“A college town cabbie embarks on a Denis Johnson-esque quest from Mississippi to Tennessee and back.” —Adam Morgan

A Good Neighborhood
By Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin’s Press
March 10
Set in North Carolina

“North Carolina’s resident master of historical fiction (Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald) returns with a poignant modern-day drama about race and privilege in the vein of Little Fires Everywhere.” —Adam Morgan

Black Widow
By Leslie Gray Streeter
Little, Brown
March 10
Set in Florida

“This book is a brave and tender examination of grief, recovery, and widowhood. Streeter shares both her love story and her experience of life after her husband’s death — including the gritty details of coffin shopping, single parenting, and racism — with candor, hope, and humor.” —Chelsea Risley

To Make Room for the Sea
By Adam Clay
Milkweed Editions
March 10
Set in Mississippi (and elsewhere)

“‘Stretched between grief and praise,’” (Traci Brimhall) Adam Clay’s fourth collection explores everyday life, parenthood, and the natural world and balances the grief of impermanence with hope for the future.” —Chelsea Risley

So We Can Glow
By Leesa Cross-Smith
Grand Central
March 10
Set in Kentucky (and elsewhere)

“The second short story collection from the author of one of my favorite novels of 2018 (Whiskey & Ribbons).” —Adam Morgan

Mustard, Milk, and Gin
By Megan Denton Ray
Hub City Press
March 10
Set in Tennessee (and elsewhere)

“Ray’s debut collection is centered on identical twin sisters and their parents set in a world shattered by the opioid crisis. These vivid lyrical poems are rooted in the natural and spiritual worlds, and as Kaveh Akbar articulates, the collection’s rhythms are ‘caught between the mountain sounds of Appalachia and the music of the Psalms.” —Chelsea Risley

Saving the Georgia Coast:
A Political History of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act

By Paul Bolster
University of Georgia Press
March 15
Set in Georgia

“In an effort to balance the desires of humankind with the limited resources of our natural world, Bolster, a historian and former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, shares the origins of the most comprehensive protection of marshlands along the Atlantic seaboard and how the decision continues to impact environmental policy today.” —Donna Tallent

A Conspiracy of Bones
By Kathy Reichs
March 17
Set in North Carolina

“New York Times bestselling author Reichs’s eagerly-anticipated newest crime thriller. Recovering from her physical and mental challenges, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan returns to Charlotte to find a way to solve the mystery of the headless corpse while remaining out of harm’s way.” —Donna Tallent

Pride of Eden
By Taylor Brown
St. Martin’s Press
March 17
Set in Georgia

“From a wildlife sanctuary on the Georgia Coast to Africa, a chilling look at the underworld of big game poaching and smuggling.” —Adam Morgan

Cool Town:
How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture

By Grace Elizabeth Hale

“From her personal perspective as a historian and musician who lived through Athens, Georgia’s bohemian heyday, Hale tells the little-known story of how the college town served as a mecca for music, art, and progressive politics in the South and birthed some of the most influential alternative bands of the eighties — the B-52’s, R.E.M., and Pylon — that transformed American culture.” —Chelsea Risley

The Edge of Anything
By Nora Shalaway Carpenter
Running Kids Press (Hachette)
March 24
Set in North Carolina

“Set in the mountains of North Carolina, debut YA novelist Carpenter tells this coming-of-age story of two teens coming together despite grief and mental health challenges. The result is an unlikely yet life-altering friendship.” —Donna Tallent

Unworthy Republic:
The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory

By Claudio Saunt
WW Norton
March 24
Set in the American South

“In his extensively researched book, award-winning author and Georgia resident Saunt includes governmental records and historical firsthand accounts of the expulsion of 80,000 indigenous men, women, and children in the 1830s. Framed as a humanitarian enterprise, the state-sponsored act lead to thousands of deaths by pushing tribes to territories west of the Mississippi River for the expansion of slavery and the strengthening of political power in the American South.” —Donna Tallent

Not Even Past:
The Stories We Keep Telling about the Civil War

By Cody Marrs
Johns Hopkins University Press
March 24
Set in the American South

“Marrs examines the shifting landscape of Civil War perspectives throughout history using public memory and writing from creators such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Walt Whitman, and Margaret Mitchell. He argues that this continual retelling and reinterpretation reveal the Civil War as an ongoing struggle never far from American consciousness and identity.” —Chelsea Risley

Death in Mud Lick:
A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic

By Eric Eyre
March 31
Set in West Virginia

“A Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter’s narrative investigation of the opioid addiction crisis told through voices in some of America’s smallest Appalachian towns. Residents of West Virginia experience the deaths of their loved ones and fight for justice against pharmaceutical corporations and the United States government.” —Donna Tallent