Bookshelf: New releases include a grit lit reissue and a paperback blockbuster

Plus new books by Atlanta authors Lo Patrick and John Cressler.
Sourcebooks Landmark / Penguin Classics / Penguin Random

Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark / Penguin Vintage / Penguin Random

Credit: Sourcebooks Landmark / Penguin Vintage / Penguin Random

Sourcebooks Landmark / Penguin Classics / Penguin Random

This week’s Bookshelf is about a bunch of new releases, including a reissue, a series closer and a paperback blockbuster, plus a book event for kids.

Grit Lit. Penguin Classics continues its mission to introduce new generations of readers to the works of Georgia native Harry Crews with the reissue of his 1988 novel “The Knockout Artist” (Penguin Classics, $18). Two years ago, the publisher reissued his 1968 debut novel “The Gospel Singer” and his 1978 memoir “A Childhood: The Biography of a Place.”

Celebrated for his stripped down, unvarnished look at the underbelly of Southern life, Crews, who died in 2012, produced more than a dozen novels plus essay collections and magazine articles while teaching English at his alma mater, University of Florida, for more than 20 years.

“The Knockout Artist” is about a boxer from Bacon County named Eugene Talmadge Biggs. His career takes a turn when he lands in New Orleans and falls in with some shady promoters who’ve turned him into a popular sideshow as the Knockout Artist, a boxer who knocks himself unconscious in the ring. At first, it’s all about the money for Eugene, but eventually he realizes he’s better than this and battles his way toward redemption.

Virginia crime writer S.A. Cosby, author of “Razorblade Tears,” provides the foreword. He contends that Crews “eschewed the languid purple prose of William Faulkner and the Christian philosophical musings of Flannery O’Connor,” observing that “If Faulkner is Mozart and O’Connor is Ralph Stanley, then Harry Crews could be likened to Johnny Cash. Rough-hewn and weathered but no less moving.”

Happy Pub Day. Atlanta author Lo Patrick, whose literary debut “The Floating Girls” was nominated for a Townsend Prize, launches her sophomore novel, “The Night the River Wept” (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99) on July 2. Set in the North Georgia mountains, it tells the story of Arlene, who is newly married to her high school sweetheart and desperate to start a family. When she suffers a miscarriage, she seeks distraction with a part-time job bagging evidence for the police department.

In her down time, she reads the files of unsolved cases and becomes obsessed with the murder of three young brothers and the suicide of the main suspect. Along with the police station receptionist and a member of the suicide victim’s family, Arlene sets out to solve the mystery. Patrick will sign copies of “The Night the River Wept” at 6:30 p.m. July 3 at The Book Worm Bookstore in Powder Springs. For details go to

Paperback release. Remember in 2022 when Gabrielle Zevin’s New York Times bestselling novel “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” (Penguin Random House, $19.99) was all the rage? Everybody seemed to be reading it and raving it about it. The sprawling, decades-spanning saga about love, loss and friendship among a trio of brilliant video game designers was named Amazon’s Best Book of the Year and made the New York Times’ list of 100 Notable Books of 2022. The paperback has recently been released, and Zevin appears at the Atlanta History Center in conversation with Virginia Prescott at 7 p.m. July 11. For details go to

End of an era. John Cressler is an electronics professor at Georgia Tech and a historical novelist with a passion for the 800-year era of Islamic Spain from 711-1492. His four-volume Anthems of al-Andalus Series comes to a close with the recent publication of “Merchants of Iniquity” (Milford House Press, $19.95). The love story between Danah and Yusef, a knight, plays out against the war between Granada and Christian Spain, and closes with the surrender of the Alhambra Palace and the end of Islamic Spain. Maps, glossaries, photographs and a list of characters help readers navigate this hefty, intricately plotted book weighing in at more than 600 pages.

Story time. The Happy Black Parent, an organization that strives to strengthen parent-child relationships, is helping keep children engaged in reading during summer months by hosting a Children’s Book Festival July 20 at Pittsburgh Yards on University Avenue. The event is free and takes place rain or shine. For details go to

Suzanne Van Atten is a book critic and contributing editor to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She can be reached at