Imani Perry is the 2023 UUA General Assembly Ware Lecturer

An essential, surprising journey through the history, rituals, and landscapes of the American South—and a revelatory argument for why you must understand the South in order to understand America

Winner of the 2022 National Book Award for Nonfiction

Product Code: 9202
ISBN: 9780062977373
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Ecco
Pages: 432
Published Date: 02/28/2023
Availability:In stock
Price: $19.99

Imani Perry is the 2023 UUA General Assembly Ware Lecturer

We all think we know the South. Even those who have never lived there can rattle off a list of signifiers: the Civil War, Gone with the Wind, the Ku Klux Klan, plantations, football, Jim Crow, slavery. But the idiosyncrasies, dispositions, and habits of the region are stranger and more complex than much of the country tends to acknowledge. In South to America, Imani Perry shows that the meaning of American is inextricably linked with the South, and that our understanding of its history and culture is the key to understanding the nation as a whole.

This is the story of a Black woman and native Alabaman returning to the region she has always called home and considering it with fresh eyes. Her journey is full of detours, deep dives, and surprising encounters with places and people. She renders Southerners from all walks of life with sensitivity and honesty, sharing her thoughts about a troubling history and the ritual humiliations and joys that characterize so much of Southern life.

Weaving together stories of immigrant communities, contemporary artists, exploitative opportunists, enslaved peoples, unsung heroes, her own ancestors, and her lived experiences, Imani Perry crafts a tapestry unlike any other. With uncommon insight and breathtaking clarity, South to America offers an assertion that if we want to build a more humane future for the United States, we must center our concern below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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A Note from the Author

I. Origin Stories
An Errand into Wilderness: Appalachia
Mother Country: Virginia
Animated Roulette: Louisville
Mary’s Land: Annapolis and the Caves
Ironic Capital: Washington, DC

II. The Solidified South
The Clearing: Upper Alabama
Tobacco Road in the Bible Belt: North Carolina
King of the South: Atlanta
More than a Memorial: Birmingham
Pearls Before Swine: Princeton to Nashville
When Beale Street Talks: Memphis
Soul of the South: The Black Belt

III. Water People
Home of the Flying Africans: The Low Country
Pistoles and Flamboyan: Florida
Immobile Women: Mobile
Magnolia Graves and Easter Lilies: New Orleans
Paraiso: The Bahamas and Havana


A Most Anticipated Book From: The New York Times - TIME - Oprah Daily - USA Today - Vulture - Essence - Esquire - W Magazine - Atlanta Journal-Constitution - PopSugar - Book Riot - Chicago Review of Books - Electric Literature - Lit Hub

“Any attempt to classify this ambitious work, which straddles genre, kicks down the fourth wall, dances with poetry, engages with literary criticism and flits from journalism to memoir to academic writing - well, that’s a fool’s errand and only undermines this insightful, ambitious and moving project…. An essential meditation on the South, its relationship to American culture - even Americanness itself…. This work—and I use the term for both Perry’s labor and its fruit — is determined to provoke a return to the other legacy of the South, the ever-urgent struggle toward freedom.” -Tayari Jones, The New York Times Book Review

"In South to America, Perry shows readers that there is no one archetype of the American South, as she considers everything from immigrant communities to the legacy of slavery to her own ancestral roots." -Time

“Provocative, perspective-shifting…. Rendered in exquisite detail…. In this vibrant, revelatory book, Perry proves herself to be a radiant storyteller…like Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and Nina Simone before her. - Oprah Daily

“Perry is deft and disciplined, her efforts to situate the beauty, oddity, and terror that mark southern life are critical and compelling. As a travel writer, she embraces detours with an eye toward discovery…. Perry asks what it means to be tied to a ‘land of big dreams and bigger lies’ when one is committed to the pursuit of a truth that bursts the nation at its seams." -Vulture

"This history of the American South examines its subject from both personal and sociopolitical perspectives... [Perry] draws connections between the past and contemporary experience." - New Yorker

“[Perry] focuses on a place and reflects on its distinctive relationship to the region’s history of slavery and racism, drawing on her own extensive knowledge of literature, music, art, and folklore, as well as her own family history.” - NPR's Fresh Air

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