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NewSouth Books Profiled for Publishing With a Purpose

NewSouth Books and publisher Suzanne La Rosa have been profiled in the Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky, where La Rosa is based. In the article “Publishing with a Purpose” by Tamara Ikenberg, Publishers Weekly correspondent Edward Nawotka praises NewSouth as “a good example of a small, niche publisher, and they make a go of it in a publishing scene that is dominated by three or four national conglomerates.” From the article:

The house is doing well in a time when people are reading less for leisure, and major publishing houses are only interested in tried-and-true mega-selling scribes, such as Danielle Steele, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling or the newest wunderkind like Myla Goldberg.

“New York City publishers are taking the safer course,” La Rosa said. “It’s been hard for them too. What that means for us, is all the people who used to be published by major New York houses are looking for new publishers. I view that as an opportunity. We can acquire writers who formerly would’ve been published by Simon & Schuster. Now, if an NYC house can’t sell 50,000 copies of a book, they won’t be considered. There are a lot of extremely gifted authors who will sell 42,000 copies, and that’s where we come in.”

Publishers Weekly‘s Nawotka also praises NewSouth’s eclectic collection of titles. Most contain civil-rights or cultural-awareness angles, but they take very different forms.

The 2004 release Where We Stand: Voices of Southern Dissent approaches civil-rights issues through a series of essays by such respected writers as Kentucky native and social historian John Egerton and civil-liberties attorney John Pollitt. [Note: A second volume, American Crisis, Southern Solutions: From Where We Stand, Peril and Promise, will be released this month from NewSouth Books.]

A more recent release, the 2006 novel Grievances, is based on a true story and was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning former Charlotte Observer reporter Mark Ethridge. It addresses Southern equality issues through the suspenseful tale of a newspaper reporter who sets out to find the truth behind the shooting of a 13-year-old African-American boy in fictional Hirtsboro, S.C. Ethridge, grandson of former Courier-Journal publisher Mark F. Ethridge, brings to the book an inside-newspaper humor and deft sense of the South …

“We want books that open a window on to a culture,” La Rosa said. “I love stories about communities, especially when you don’t know much about them.”

A NewSouth book that beautifully fits that bill is the Jewish-themed children’s book Shlemiel Crooks, written by Anna Olswanger and illustrated by Paula Goodman Koz. A clever twist on the Passover tale, Crooks was inspired by a 1919 newspaper article from The St. Louis Jewish Record, and uncovers St. Louis’ Jewish community in the early 1900s.

The new release Poor Man’s Provence by beloved Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson uncovers Cajun Louisiana and, as Johnson notes, is in the tradition of Peter Mayle’s 1991 best-seller A Year in Provence. That book is a true story portraying Mayle as a fish out of water in the south of France …

NewSouth also isn’t afraid to create political waves.

its 2006 book Ali Dubyiah and the Forty Thieves, by [John] Egerton, with its swirling gilded edges, looks like an ancient relic, save for the familiar, caricatured faces on the cover. It’s George W. Bush leading his insane-looking pals down a desert road. The doomsday fable is as creative as it is controversial. The “Bush King’s” cronies have menacingly funny monikers like Dick Chaingang and Donald Rumsfailed. Ali Dubyiah is not entirely kind to the Dems either. President Clinton is lasciviously labeled “King Zip.”

“I’ve known Randall Williams for a great many years, and when I decided to write that book — more or less in the heat of passion — I called Randall because he was the only publisher I knew who could possibly turn something around as quickly as that,” said Egerton, uncle of Courier-Journal theater critic Judith Egerton.

Read the full article from The Courier-Journal.

The full line of NewSouth Books titles are available from your favorite local book retailer, online, or at