Today marks the release of Ron Rash’s excellent new novel, The Cove, and the book, a World War I love story set in the wilds of the Appalachian mountains, has gotten us on a serious Southern literature kick — particularly contemporary Southern literature, because we’ve read about all the Faulkner we can handle for one month, and accordingly, we’ve put together this list of contemporary Southern authors that are definitely worth carving out some reading time to delve into. There has been much chatter about the state of Southern literature — what it means, what it once meant, what it should mean — but we only have one criteria: that it’s written by a Southern author, and that it’s amazing. We’ve limited our list to living authors, which excludes recent giants Barry Hannah, William Gay, and Harry Crews, as well all the classics (Faulkner, Lee, Welty, O’Connor) who defined the genre. Click through to check out our list of contemporary American Southern authors you really should be reading, and let us know if we’ve left off your favorite in the comments.
Born in Chester, South Carolina, Rash is poet, short story writer, and novelist, and currently teaches as the Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies at Western Carolina University. Like his newest novel, and his amazing 2008 book Serena (think Macbeth in the mountains of depression-era North Carolina), Rash’s work is often set in the Appalachian South, but his exceptional storytelling always fills our heads with mysteries and hard truths in brutal, brilliant prose.