The Best Southern Books of June 2022

We’re celebrating Pride month with as many Southern LGBTQ+ books and authors as we can squeeze in! Things are looking pretty bleak out there with transphobic legislation advances, book bans, and threats of violence at Pride events, so celebrating LGBTQ stories feels especially important right now. So, here are some of the best queer Southern memoirs, poetry, and fiction from the year so far.

I Came All This Way to Meet You
By Jami Attenberg
January 11, 2022

SRB Review: “In a time when travel can seem perilous and many people are staying close to home, it was fascinating to accompany writer Jami Attenberg on the inner and outer journeys chronicled in her autobiography, I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home.”

High-Risk Homosexual
By Edgar Gomez
January 11, 2022

Soft Skull: “With vulnerability, humor, and quick-witted insights into racial, sexual, familial, and professional power dynamics, Gomez shares a hard-won path to taking pride in the parts of himself he was taught to keep hidden. His story is a scintillating, beautiful reminder of the importance of leaving space for joy.”

By Henry Hoke
January 13, 2022

SRB Review: “Despite its cozy nostalgia for the good music, and better yet, even greater stickers of the 90s, Sticker houses twenty mini confessions, where one person’s experiences with economic privilege, ancestral violence, and parental disability collide with an academic city’s angry and racist history that keeps repeating itself.”

Perpetual West
By Mesha Maren
January 25, 2022

SRB Interview with Mesha Maren: “Her writing is steeped in themes of place and identity, and her new novel, Perpetual West, takes readers to the U.S./Mexico border to explore how we make sense of our relationships to places, to others, and to ourselves.”

By Morgan Thomas
January 25, 2022

SRB Review: “The nine stories in the debut story collection Manywhere by Morgan Thomas showcase all types of people – trans, cis, lesbian, straight – who have come to tell their stories, to find themselves by revealing themselves.”

Don’t Cry for Me
By Daniel Black
February 1, 2022

SRB Review: “In Don’t Cry for Me, Jacob is dying from lung cancer and struggling to scribble down his life lessons, his regrets, and most importantly, relay the love and appreciation he has, not only for his son but also for a family that has long passed.”

Headless John the Baptist Hitchhiking
By C. T. Salazar
February 18, 2022

SRB Review: “There is a sense that Salazar brings you inside of himself while he unravels his own practical divinity in the piece, which speaks volumes in the silence between stanzas. The collection is filled with stories about Salazar’s life, family, and experiences growing up as a queer person of color in Mississippi.”

Another Appalachia
By Neema Avashia
March 1, 2022

SRB Review: “Neema Avashia tells the story of coming up in West Virginia as a queer daughter of Indian immigrants in her essay collection, Another Appalachia. Avashia achieves a complicated and nearly imperceptible balancing act between nostalgia, admiration, humor, and incredulity for a place so many — even those of us born there — struggle to describe.”

Queer Country
By Shana Goldin-Perschbacher
March 22, 2022

SRB Interview with Shana Goldin-Perschbacher: “A genre defined by emotional sincerity and connection (however distant) to a simpler rural way of life, the country music industry can also be exclusionary and insular in who it highlights. In her new book, Queer Country, Shana Goldin-Perschbacher focuses on the contributions of queer and trans country musicians and how they have interpreted a genre that has often marginalized them.”

Thresh & Hold
By Marlanda Dekine
March 29, 2022

Hub City Press: “Marlanda Dekine’s debut collection is a holy, radical unlearning and reclamation of self. 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.”

Y’all Means All
Edited by Z. Zane McNeill
April 12, 2022

PM Press: “Y’all Means All is a celebration of the weird and wonderful aspects of a troubled region in all of their manifest glory! This collection is a thought-provoking hoot and a holler of we’re queer and we’re here to stay, cause we’re every bit a piece of the landscape as the rocks and the trees echoing through the hills of Appalachia and into the boardrooms of every media outlet and opportunistic author seeking to define Appalachia from the outside for their own political agendas.”

I Kissed Shara Wheeler
By Casey McQuiston
May 3, 2022

Wednesday Books: “Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and the puritanical administration of Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.”

By Kathryn Miles
May 3, 2022

SRB Review: “In Trailed, she’s drawn to the Shenandoah murders, the gruesome 1996 killing of Laura “Lollie” Winans and Julie Williams, through a few personal connections. Miles taught at Unity College, a close-knit environmental school, where Lollie had been a student. Additionally, an avid hiker herself, Miles wants to feel confident on the Appalachian Trail and in our National Parks, a confidence shaken by this unsolved case.”

By Davida G. Breier
May 26, 2022

University of New Orleans Press: “Lies from the past and a dangerous present collide when, after fifteen years in exile, Michelle Miller returns to her tiny hometown of Lorida, Florida. With her mother in the hospital, she’s forced to reckon with the broken relationships she left behind: with her family, with friends, and with herself.”

The Golden Season
By Madeline Kay Sneed
May 31, 2022

Graydon House: “Emmy Quinn is West Texas through and through: her roots run deep in the sleepy small town of Steinbeck, where God sees all and football is king. She loves her community, but she knows that when she comes out as a lesbian, she may not be able to call Steinbeck — which is steeped in the Southern Baptist tradition — home anymore.”

The Kingdom of Sand
By Andrew Holleran
June 7, 2022

FSG: “The Kingdom of Sand is a poignant tale of desire and dread — Andrew Holleran’s first new book in sixteen years. The nameless narrator is a gay man who moved to Florida to look after his aging parents — during the height of the AIDS epidemic — and has found himself unable to leave after their deaths. With gallows humor, he chronicles the indignities of growing old in a small town.”

oh, you thought this was a date?!
By C. Russell Price
June 15, 2022

TriQuarterly: “Appalachian genderqueer punk writer C. Russell Price’s first full-length poetry collection is a somatic grimoire exploring desire, gender, and sexuality in multiverse littered with flowers and product placement. Part pop culture bubblegum lip smack, part battle cry, this collection asks, What is radical vengeance, and does true survivorship from sexual trauma exist only in fantasy, or is it an attainable reality?”

Dead Letters from Paradise
Ann McMan
June 28, 2022

Bywater Books: “Ann McMan introduces readers to a spinster postal investigator for the Winston-Salem Dead Letter Office who finds herself enmeshed in the mystery of solving who is sending undeliverable love letters to the town’s 18th-century hortus medicus.”