The Best Southern Books of June 2021

In celebration of LGBTQ+ authors and books during Pride month, this roundup features just some of the amazing Southern queer literature we’ve covered here at the Southern Review of Books so far.

My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
By Jenn Shapland
February 4, 2020

SRB Interview with Jenn Shapland: Jenn Shapland knew she had stumbled upon something remarkable when she discovered letters between writer Carson McCullers and photographer and journalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach. The two women had been friends — that was no secret — and yet the letters suggested an intimacy that went beyond anything platonic…. Shapland, who was then coming to terms with her own sexual identity, sensed there was more to uncover.

The Antidote for Everything
By Kimmery Martin
Published February 18, 2020

SRB Interview with Kimmery Martin: In Martin’s second novel, The Antidote For Everything, two doctors in Charleston, South Carolina, put their jobs on the line when their hospital tells doctors to stop treating transgender patients.

Real Life
By Brandon Taylor
Riverhead Books
February 18, 2020

SRB Review: Brandon Taylor’s debut novel, Real Life, precisely captures both the dreamy atmosphere and gritty competitiveness of graduate school with stunning grace.

Boys of Alabama
By Genevieve Hudson
Published May 19, 2020

SRB Interview with Genevieve Hudson: A family of German expatriates finds themselves in the sweet tea-consuming, churchgoing land of Delilah, Alabama in Genevieve Hudson’s debut novel, Boys of Alabama.

The Prettiest Star
By Carter Sickels
Hub City Press
Published May 19, 2020

SRB Review: Carter Sickels’ The Prettiest Star is the Appalachian AIDS story none of us realized we needed, but we absolutely needed. The most common stories about AIDS leave out the men who went back to small towns to spend their last days with families who did not understand them, did not want them, or believed they deserved to suffer because of their “sins.”

All My Mother’s Lovers
By Ilana Masad
Published May 26, 2020

SRB Interview with Ilana Masad: In Ilana Masad’s novel, All My Mother’s Lovers, Maggie Krause decides to skip shiva after her mother’s untimely death; instead, she sets out on a road trip to deliver letters included with her mother’s will. The trip allows her to learn about her mother and about herself in profound ways.

Boy Oh Boy
By Zachary Doss
Red Hen Press
June 2, 2020

SRB Review: The queer fabulist stories in Boy Oh Boy by Zachary Doss are playful, surreal, sometimes dark, and always magical.

By Taylor Johnson
Alice James Books
November 10, 2020

SRB Review: Taylor Johnson’s Inheritance is a collection of poetry of listening and watching.

Revolutions of All Colors
By Dewaine Farria
Syracuse University Press
December 14, 2020

SRB Review: Dewaine Farria’s novel Revolutions of All Colors spans four generations of two interconnected families, from the early 1970s to the present day.

By Paula Martinac
Bywater Books
January 19, 2021

SRB Review: Paula Martinac’s new book, Testimony, explores the tension between security and living as one’s authentic self in an oppressive society.

The Tender Grave
By Sheri Reynolds
Bywater Books
March 16, 2021

SRB Interview with Sheri Reynolds: In Reynolds’ long-anticipated latest novel, The Tender Grave, she explores complex relationships between mothers and daughters and the malleable concept of family.

The Thing About Florida
By Tyler Gillespie
University Press of Florida
April 13, 2021

SRB Review: The ten essays in The Thing about Florida are a mix of archival research, interviews, and personal history, and they are the result of what seems to be a literary walkabout in the state by the author.

Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat
By Khalisa Rae
Red Hen Press
April 13, 2021

SRB Interview with Khalisa Rae: Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat is a fierce, beautiful, aching collection of poems reflecting the experience of a Black woman moving from the Midwest to make a home in the South. 

Things We Lost to the Water
By Eric Nguyen
May 4, 2021

SRB Review: Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen is a stunning tribute to the ways in which families break apart and come back together. The novel follows each of the three family members as they attempt to fashion some kind of life in New Orleans. Each makes choices to align themselves with Vietnamese or American culture or something in between, but none of them makes exactly the choices that we might expect.