Authors discussed include: Wendell Berry, Erskine Caldwell, Truman Capote, Ralph Ellison, William Faulkner, Shelby Foote, Zora Neal Hurston, Bobbie Ann Mason, Cormac McCarthy, Flannery O'Connor, William Styron, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Thomas Wolfe, Richard Wright, and many more.
By World War II, the Southern Renaissance had established itself as one of the most significant literary events of the century, and today much of the best American fiction is southern fiction. Though the flowering of realistic and local-color writing during the first two decades of the century was a sign of things to come, the period between the two world wars was the crucial one for the South's literary development: a literary revival in Richmond came to fruition; at Vanderbilt University a group of young men produced The Fugitive, a remarkable, controversial magazine that published some of the century's best verse in its brief run; and the publication and widespread recognition of Faulkner (among others) inaugurated the great flood of southern writing that was to follow in novels, short stories, poetry, and plays.
With more than forty years of experience writing and reading about the subject, and friendships with many of the figures discussed, J. A. Bryant is uniquely qualified to provide the first comprehensive account of southern American literature since 1900. Bryant pays attention to both the cultural and the historical context of the works and authors discussed, and presents the information in an enjoyable, accessible style. No lover of great American literature can afford to be without this book.
"An encyclopedic review that covers not only such major figures as Walker Percy and William Styron but also considers John Barth as a Southern writer and gives welcome attention to Reynolds Price, Harry Crews, and Cormac McCarthy." -- American Literary Scholarship
"With a fresh outlook on individual writers and an infectious enthusiasm, the author traces 'what led up to the South's extraordinary flowering.'... Bryant's scope extends well beyond Faulkner to include many other major and even some minor gods in the pantheon, giving this book a compelling comprehensiveness." -- Booklist
"Very sensibly organized, very sensible organized, very clearly written, and very humane in its overall approach." -- Bowling Green Daily News
"J.A. Bryant has filled the need for such a work in one concise, well-written volume." -- Georgia Historical Quarterly
"Bryant has given the many readers of modern southern literature a valuable scholarly and critical work that may well become a classic in its field" -- Georgia Historical Quarterly
"A reader can hardly work though this book without being impressed by the number of writers covered." -- Kitikon Litterarum
"For the reader interested in a bird's-eye view of the major figures and trends in Southern literature, this work will be a welcome resource." -- Publishers Weekly
"An engaging (and staggeringly comprehensive but marvelously succinct) book that quietly but unmistakably takes its stand against two increasingly visible trends in southern literary study." -- Sewanee Review
"A keen reminder of novels, stories, and poems that you know you must read or read again." -- The Georgia Review
"An exceptional overview of the last hundred years of Southern writing." -- Virginia Quarterly Review