10 Southern books we’re eager to read in winter 2022

Courtesy of HarperCollins / Penguin Random House / Simon & Schusters

Credit: File

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Courtesy of HarperCollins / Penguin Random House / Simon & Schusters

Credit: File

Credit: File

In the world of publishing, winter 2022 is shaping up to be a time to get real. A lot of the books The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s critics are looking forward to reading this winter are nonfiction titles. Among our list of eagerly anticipated books are a look at the history and recovery of the last slave ship to dock in the U.S., an examination of the South’s influence on the rest of the country, a peek inside the mind of an iconic author, an analysis of the differences between genders and a humorous scrutiny of the institution of marriage.

In addition to the big buzz books listed below, there are two upcoming books from AJC staff members worth noting. Investigative reporter Chris Joyner’s “The Three Death Sentences of Clarence Henderson” (Abrams, $26, Jan. 11) tells the story of a Black man falsely convicted of murder three times in Carrollton during the early days of the civil rights movement, and political reporter Greg Bluestein examines the state’s changing political landscape in “Flipped: How Georgia Turned Purple and Broke the Monopoly on Republican Power” (Viking, $29, March 22)

ExploreAJC names top 10 Southern books of 2021
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Courtesy of Counterpoint Press

Credit: Counterpoint Press

Courtesy of Counterpoint Press

Credit: Counterpoint Press

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Courtesy of Counterpoint Press

Credit: Counterpoint Press

Credit: Counterpoint Press

“None But the Righteous”

Chantal James weaves a beguiling nonlinear narrative about Ham, a lonely young man raised by negligent adults, who travels from New Orleans to Atlanta to rural Alabama to escape Hurricane Katrina and reconnect with his old friend Mayfly. Unbeknownst to Ham, when he was a young boy his foster mother Miss Pearl placed a pendant around his neck that contained the fragment of a saint’s bone. Ever since then, the spirit of Papa Legba had taken over Ham’s life. In an effort to reclaim control, Ham returns to New Orleans to find himself. (Counterpoint Press, $26, Jan. 11)

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

“Yonder”

At Placid Hall plantation in the antebellum South, a group of enslaved people who call themselves the Stolen, form relationships that are tried by the inhumane treatment they endure at the hands of their captor, Cannonball Greene. Their bond is tested when a mysterious minister arrives and plants ideas about independence. Forced to decide whether to take a chance on freedom, William, Margaret, Cato, Pandora and the others struggle to determine who and what they can trust in this novel by Jabari Asim. (Simon & Schuster, $27, Jan. 11)

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

Credit: Simon & Schuster

“The Last Slave Ship”

In spring 2018, journalist and filmmaker Ben Raines discovered in an Alabama swamp the sunken remains of the Clotilda, the last ship to bring enslaved men, women and children from Africa to U.S. soil — 50 years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed. Raines’ book examines the history of the voyage; the passengers’ founding of Africatown, Alabama; their living descendants; the discovery of the ship’s remains; and how its recovery helped heal long-lingering wounds in the community. (Simon & Schuster, $26, Jan. 25)

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Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

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Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

“South to America”

Princeton professor and winner of the 2019 PEN Award for biography for “Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry,” Imani Perry returns to her Southern roots to take the temperature of the region and examine how its history has shaped the country’s past and continues to impact its future. Atlanta, Birmingham, Appalachia, Memphis and New Orleans are among the places she visits. (HarperCollins, $28.99, Jan. 25)

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Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

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Courtesy of HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

Credit: HarperCollins

“Foreverland”

Durham, North Carolina, native Heather Havrilesky has brought her keen insight and sardonic humor to a myriad of topics in her eclectic career, which has included a stint as a TV critic for Salon, a memoirist and an advice columnist for Ask Polly, formerly of New York magazine but featured on Substack. Here she turns her attention to what she calls “the divine tedium of marriage.” She is fearless in mining her and her husband’s marital foibles in this collection of essays that are equal parts hilarious and poignant. (HarperCollins, $27.99, Feb. 8)

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Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

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Courtesy of Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

Credit: Grand Central

“Nobody’s Magic”

Poet Destiny O. Birdsong makes her fiction debut with this lyrical novel about three Black women with albinism living in Shreveport, Louisiana. Suzette’s development into an independent woman has been stunted by overprotective parents. Maple has never gotten over the death of her mother in a drive-by shooting. Underemployed Agnes feels trapped in a toxic relationship. Into each of their lives enter men who trigger a reckoning that set the women on the path to a hopeful future. (Grand Central, $28, Feb. 8)

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Courtesy of Penguin Classics

Credit: Penguin

Courtesy of Penguin Classics

Credit: Penguin

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Courtesy of Penguin Classics

Credit: Penguin

Credit: Penguin

Harry Crews reissues

Penguin Classics publishes two classic books by the late great grit lit writer Harry Crews, starting with his first novel “The Gospel Singer” ($17, March 15). Published in 1968 and long out of print, it tells the story of a famous faith healer who returns to his hometown of Enigma, Georgia, where his true self is revealed. It features a new foreword by Kevin Wilson, author of “The Family Fang” and “Nothing to See Here.” It will be followed by Crews’ stunning memoir, “A Childhood: The Biography of a Place” ($17, March 22), featuring a new foreword by Tobias Wolff, author of “This Boy’s Life.”

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"Different" by Frans de Waal Courtesy W. W. Norton & Co.

Credit: W.W. Norton & Co

"Different" by Frans de Waal
Courtesy W. W. Norton & Co.

Credit: W.W. Norton & Co

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"Different" by Frans de Waal Courtesy W. W. Norton & Co.

Credit: W.W. Norton & Co

Credit: W.W. Norton & Co

“Different”

Drawing from his work with apes at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, best-selling author and Emory professor Frans de Waal examines differences between the genders and how they apply to humans. Sexuality, gender identity, same-sex rivalry and homosexuality are among the topics covered. As always, de Waal’s writing style is highly accessible and filled with fascinating anecdotes that are insightful and entertaining. (W.W. Norton & Co., $30, April 5)

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

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Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

“Gathering Blossoms Under Fire”

Author Valerie Boyd, who directs the University of Georgia’s MFA program in narrative nonfiction, had the herculean task of distilling the voluminous journals of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker to this 528-page volume that spans from the ‘60s to the ‘90s. According to Boyd’s introduction, the book is “a deeply personal journey and an intimate history of our time” that explores Walker’s “thoughts and feelings as a woman, a writer, an African American, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a sister, a friend, a citizen of the world.” (Simon & Schuster, $37.50, April 12)

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"Wingwalkers" by Taylor Brown Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Credit: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

"Wingwalkers" by Taylor Brown
Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Credit: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

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"Wingwalkers" by Taylor Brown Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Credit: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Credit: Courtesy of St. Martin's Press

“Wingwalkers”

Savannah author Taylor Brown tells the adventurous love story of Della and Zeno Marigold, a former World War II pilot and his wife, who perform aerial feats of derring-do for audiences across the country during the Depression. Along the way they cross paths with William Faulkner who is inspired by the couple in ways that have surprising consequences. (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99, April 19)

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