A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey Through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape (Hardcover)
“This is the book all of us Mississippi writers, dead and alive, need to read. It is indeed a strange but glorious sensation to see your literary and geographic lineage so beautifully and rigorously explored and valued as it's still being created.” —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy: An American Memoir
The South has produced some of America’s most celebrated authors, and no state more so than Mississippi. Names as diverse as Faulkner, Welty, and Ward have created a literary legacy spanning decades and stretching across lines of class, gender, and race. One thing binds together these wide- ranging perspectives—the land itself. In A Place Like Mississippi, W. Ralph Eubanks explores those ties and the ways in which the Magnolia State has fostered such a bounty of expression.
The stories haven’t always been easy to tell; even beautiful landscapes can’t obscure a complicated history. The state’s African American writers have long recounted the fight for equality, forming a lineage of powerful Black voices that continue to speak with urgency in our tumultuous times. Yet underlying those truths is also a deep affection for Mississippi’s places.
With the love of a native son, Eubanks pays tribute to the inspiration that can come from the lay of the land, proving that a journey through one state’s literary terrain can help us better understand America as a whole
W. Ralph Eubanks is author of Ever Is a Long Time and The House at the End of the Road. He has also contributed articles and reviews to the Chicago Tribune, Preservation, The Hedgehog Review, The American Scholar, Time, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, The New Yorker, and NPR. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. Eubanks lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife and three children, and is currently visiting professor of Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
“I wish I could have been riding shotgun with Ralph Eubanks as he drove the haunted and haunting roads of Mississippi. Fortunately, this captivating book is the next best thing, full of trenchant dispatches that speak to our current moment.” —Sally Mann, author of Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs
“Some of the most prolific American writers have hailed from Mississippi. Included in that list is essayist W. Ralph Eubanks whose newest work of nonfiction seeks to understand the state’s influence on modern literature.” —Time
“We have a lot to learn from A Place Like Mississippi.” —All Things Considered
“A tribute to Mississippi and its outsized role in the American Literary landscape.” —TIME Magazine
“It may not be the vacation travel you had in mind, but Eubanks’ journey through a real and imagined literary landscape… is a trip worth taking… this gorgeous writing transports me to the complicated cultural richness and profundity that rises above—in spite of—the not-good parts of the state that get so much attention, and that people like Eubanks are working hard to expel.” —Vanity Fair
“Eubanks invites readers to explore the landscape of Mississippi—along with its history—in a more literary sense, while examining a host of different ways this landscape has influenced its writers.” —The Clarion-Ledge
“Eubanks guides readers on a tour of Mississippi’s literature, and the result is both enlightening and entertaining.” —The Memphis Flyer
“A necessary reference book…[that] celebrates the breadth and depth of the state’s rich literary landscape.” —The Arts Fuse
“Reading A Place Like Mississippi is as much a visceral experience as it is an intellectual one, even down to the supple feel of the pages and the soft, elegant texture of the book in your hands. Many of the included photos are so striking in their beauty that to render them as words on the page is to plumb the depths of one’s own literary ability.” —The Georgia Review
“For readers who seek out interpretations of Mississippi through literature, music, and geography.” —Garden Gun