As described in Patricia Evans' Southern Literature: Women Writers, "Southern literature (sometimes called the literature of the American South) is defined as American literature about the Southern United States or by writers from this region. Characteristics of Southern literature include a focus on a common Southern history, the significance of family, a sense of community and one’s role within it, a sense of justice, the region's dominant religion (Christianity — mainly Protestantism) and the burdens/rewards religion often brings, issues of racial tension, land and the promise it brings, a sense of social class and place, and the use of the Southern dialect."
Southern Literature has enjoyed several different periods of prominence, with some significant works coming in the pre-Civil War antebellum period, and a large number of noted novels appearing in the "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" sub-genre, mourning the South's loss in the U.S. Civil War conflict. Southern writing went through a period of renaissance in the 1920s and 1930s, with works from such influential writers as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Wolfe, Katherine Anne Porter, Robert Penn Warren, Caroline Gordon and others. From the 1940s onwards, the field of Southern Literature, which had been dominated by white male writers, grew to encompass many more female authors and African-American authors, including such noteworthy writers as Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Carson McCullers, Reynolds Price, Shirley Ann Grau, James Dickey, Walker Percy and James Styron.
The field of contemporary Southern Literature has broadened even further, and the elements that go into "traditional" Southern fiction have become even more diffuse. Numerous mystery series, including those by James Lee Burke and Carolyn G. Hart, have strong Southern settings, as do many of the legal thrillers of John Grisham. The Southeastern United States is a popular region for mainstream literature, both in terms of authors coming from that area and as a setting for contemporary novels. The following list of recommended authors/titles is intended to provide a sampling of Southern Literature for today's reader, with an emphasis on recently published works, with some classics thrown in for good measure.
[ All books in this list which are owned by Lincoln City Libraries are hotlinked to their entries in our library catalog, so that you may check on their current availability. Some titles not owned by the libraries are included in this list due to their classic nature, or their position as part of a series. If you see a title on this list that is not hotlinked to our collection, please consider ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan department. ]