The “Southern” label: badge or handicap?

At the Emerging Writers Network, Tayari Jones (The Untelling) and Quinn Dalton (Bulletproof Girl) talk with book bloggers Carrie Frye and Gwenda Bond about the label “Southern writer.” Among other things, they discuss the impact of the “Southern fiction” label on marketing. Tayari Jones recalls:

Warner tried to market Leaving Atlanta as “Southern,” sending me only to Southern cities… not such a good idea for my book about the Atlanta Child Murders. I think I would have been better received in the urban centers of the country.

Jones’ latest book, The Untelling, gets a glowing review from Carrie Brown in The Washington Post Book World. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The Untelling widens and deepens as it goes, becoming not just the story of one woman’s regret — but a shrewd and knowing portrait of poverty, racism and the hopelessness of the oppressed and the unlucky. In the end, it is very much about what human beings do when the world turns its back on them.

I’m reading with Jones this Friday, April 22, at Bluestockings.


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