Deep South’s Southern Voice section highlights authors that capture the nuanced flavor of the South. Here is a list of new books coming out by past Southern Voice authors.
Dark Roux by Toby LeBlanc, out now
Dark Roux is the story of a family simmering on the verge of burning to ruin. The delicate nature of this sauce depicts how Cajun culture survives Americanization along parade routes and swamps in South Louisiana. The Mouton family approaches Mardi Gras 1999 expecting traditional joy and release. But teenage struggles with sexual orientation and independence, the ambiguity of young love complicated by the racism of the South, motherhood leaving little room to love one’s self (even when two non-family women are waiting to help) and blind ambition as a way to deal with the past, all plague the family. The lines tying them together become taut, threatening to fail and toss them into the hurricane of the future.
Toby LeBlanc is an author and mental health professional currently living in Austin, Texas. His work often delves into his Cajun roots. LeBlanc’s short story “The End of the World Bar,” published in Deep South’s Southern Voice section in 2018, incorporates themes of Southern identity and hope in the face of environmental threat.
Petrochemical Nocturne by Amos Jasper Wright IV, August 2023
The Mississippi River. HAZMAT labels. Boxing. Suicide by cop. New Orleans Saints football. Chemical explosions. The Angola prison rodeo. Chlorine gas ghost ships. Through these symbols and themes, we learn about Toussaint, an African-American man named after the Haitian revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture, and his formative experiences in the Standard Heights neighborhood of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While the principal action is set in the Deep South, Petrochemical Nocturne is an indictment of what Toussaint describes as “that dystopian haunted carnival cruise line called America,” as Standard Heights and the ExxonMobil refinery that has destroyed it supply the energy and refined petroleum products that enable contemporary consumerism. A discursive exploration of environmental racism, Southern history, the prison-industrial complex, police brutality, intergenerational trauma and climate change, Petrochemical Nocturne is both paean and eulogy for the former enslaved communities of Cancer Alley, the erasure of an entire people from a poisoned landscape.
Amos Jasper Wright IV is an Alabama native whose work explores the positioning of the South in the context of social and environmental justice, including his previous work Nobody Knows How it Got This Good, which we revealed the cover for in 2018.
The Muu-Antiques by Shome Dasgupta, July 2023
“The Muu-Antiques is a southern-fried, whole-hearted, quirky mystery—it has the feel of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry with the spirit of Forrest Gump. With each step of Percy’s adventure, you see the mundane anew, and true treasures come from relationships which sprout in front of us like flowers in Macy’s garden. The friendships in this novel are sweeter than the tea sipped on Macy’s porch, and by the end, you’ll wish Percy would move into the apartment above your garage. Dasgupta’s writing is as inviting, familiar, and colorful as a well-worn muumuu—it’s rare to find a book that has you rooting for both friend and foe, and then have both stick with you long after you turn the last page. This is Dasgupta’s greatest gift: find the good in everyone and let that be remembered long afterwards, like a fine antique.” -Toby LeBlanc, author of Dark Roux
Shome Dasgupta is a Louisiana-based, award-winning author whose short stories “Crawfish and a Drawing by Barn” and “The Storm Was Coming” were published in Deep South’s Southern Voice section in 2014.
These Particular Women by Kat Meads, out now
Did or didn’t Virginia Woolf carry her walking stick with her into the River Ouse? Did Kitty Oppenheimer get it right on her fourth marital try? Was revenge Agatha Christie’s motive when she disappeared in 1926? Could Estelle Faulkner out-drink her husband Bill? Did Mary McCarthy believe her own hype? Was Caroline Blackwood a slob as well as a snob? In These Particular Women, Kat Meads investigates 10 famous/infamous women and the exceedingly contradictory biographical and autobiographical portraits that survive them.
Kat Meads is a North Carolina-born author, poet and playwright whose short story “Guidance” appeared in Deep South’s Southern Voice section in March 2023.
Dead Mediums by Dan Leach, out now
With the dark determination of Flannery O’Connor, the inventive urgency of Haruki Murakami and an insight and wit all his own, Dan Leach conjures the American South with all its beauty, magic, tragedy, grace and violence. Young boys make a dangerous deal with the vagrant who sleeps in the construction site at the edge of a trailer park. A wizard’s cures bring bizarre side effects. Trying to win back his girlfriend, a penitent man crawls through the streets like a dog, plunging his college town into chaos. The stories in Dead Mediums are electrifying, gritty, compelling and profound.
Dan Leach, born and raised in South Carolina, uses fiction as an avenue to explore Southern culture. His short story “Everything must go” appeared in Deep South’s Southern Voice section in 2014.