I've been looking forward to a new Silas House novel for years now. I've followed his career since I published his work in Night Train, and was extremely proud to have his blurb for my collection Mostly Redneck. His novels reveal the best of Appalachia, the power of family, and most of all a reverence for music and the natural world that continues to make me feel good when I reread them, which I do every few years. Like Chris Offutt and Chris Holbrook and Lee Smith and Breece Pancake, he writes a world and people I recognize in my bones, though the accent's a little different where I grew up in the very northern tip of Appalachia. Algonquin's promo material for the new Silas novel Southernmost follows, and I encourage you all to check it out when it comes out in June.
When a flood washes away much of a small community along the Cumberland River in Tennessee, Asher Sharp, an evangelical preacher there, starts to see his life anew. He has already lost a brother due to his inability to embrace his brother’s coming out of the closet. Now, in the aftermath of the flood, he tries to offer shelter to two gay men, but he’s met with resistance by his wife. Furious about her prejudice, Asher delivers a sermon where he passionately defends the right of gay people to exist without condemnation.
In the heated battle that ensues, Asher loses his job, his wife, and custody of his son, Justin. As Asher worries over what will become of the boy, whom his wife is determined to control, he decides to kidnap Justin and take him to Key West, where he suspects that his estranged brother is now living. It’s there that Asher and Justin see a new way of thinking and loving.
Southernmost is a tender and heartbreaking novel about love and its consequences, both within the South and beyond.
"In Silas House’s moving new novel, a pastor wrestles with a crisis not just of faith but of all the apparent certainties of his life: a crisis of marriage, of community, of fatherhood. This is a novel of painful, finally revelatory awakening, of fierce love and necessary disaster, of the bravery required to escape the prison of our days, to make a better and more worthy life.”—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
“This beautifully crafted novel brims with a spirit of hopeful humanity as one man’s effort to make himself a better person casts ripples in the world around him."
—Charles Frazier, author of Varina
“Southernmost engages my most deeply hidden fears and hopes. Silas House has all the gifts of a passionate storyteller, and to this book he adds the heartfelt convictions of a man willing to voice what we so seldom see in print—the ways in which with all good intentions we can mess up and go wrong, and only later try to sort out how we can win our own redemption. I love this book, and for it, I love Silas House.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
“A spiritual journey, a love story, and a classic road novel … With its themes of acceptance and equality, Southernmost holds a special meaning for America right now, with relevance even beyond its memorable story.”
—Lee Smith, author of Dimestore
“Silas House's characters are as real to me as my own family. Southernmost is a novel for our time, a courageous and necessary book."
—Jennifer Haigh, author of Heat and Light
“Southernmost is an emotional tsunami. The classic themes of great literature written about family life are upended here in a modern twist as a father and son flee one life in search of another; as estranged brothers separated by time and their judgement of one another seek redemption and through the women in their lives, antagonists in the struggle who become grace notes on the road to redemption. This is a story of faith lost and love found, and what we must throw overboard on the journey in order to keep moving. A treasure."
—Adriana Trigiani, author of Kiss Carlo