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Mississippi Books

I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about, and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it” — Nobel Prize Winner William Faulkner. Mississippi authors have contributed so much to world literature it is hard to narrow it down to a few recommendations, but try these for starters:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. The book is narrated by three very different women; Minny, a black maid unable to keep a job due to her hot head, Aibileen, another black maid who is raising her 'seventeenth white child', and Miss Skeeter, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a white woman who wants to be a writer. She has been brought up by black maids since she was young, and longs to find out why her much-loved maid, Constantine, has disappeared.

A Time To Kill by John Grisham

A 1989 legal thriller by John Grisham, this was Grisham's first novel. The novel was rejected by many publishers before Wynwood Press eventually gave it a modest 5,000-copy printing. When Doubleday published The Firm, Wynwood released a trade paperback of A Time to Kill, which became a bestseller.

My Dog Skip by Willie Morris

My Dog Skip is a memoir published by Random House in 1995. My Dog Skip is the story about nine-year-old Willie Morris growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, a tale of a boy and his dog in a small, sleepy Southern town that teaches us about family, friendship, love, devotion, trust and bravery.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

This is a 1930 Southern Gothic novel. Faulkner said that he wrote the novel from midnight to 4:00 a.m. over the course of six weeks and that he did not change a word of it. Faulkner wrote it while working at a power plant. The novel was published in 1930, and Faulkner described it as a "tour de force." Faulkner's fifth novel, it is consistently ranked among the best novels of 20th-century literature. The title derives from Book XI of Homer's Odyssey (William Marris's 1925 translation), wherein Agamemnon tells Odysseus: "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyes as I descended into Hades." You can stroll upon Faulkner’s native soil at his home Rowan Oak in Oxford.

Mississippi Blood by Grey Iles

With the release of “Mississippi Blood,” Greg Iles has completed the trilogy he began in 2014 with “Natchez Burning” and continued in 2015 with “The Bone Tree.” It’s a major accomplishment for the novelist: three king-size books that are page-turning entertainments with an edge of history and a deep understanding of race relations in the American South.

Those considering “Mississippi Blood” may wonder if it will be understandable without having read the two previous novels. The answer is a great big yes, although anyone who has time should start at the beginning. The anchor of the story is Penn Cage, the mayor of Natchez.

Losing Battles by Eudora Welty

Losing Battles is the last novel written by Eudora Welty. It was released on April 13, 1970. The novel's setting is two days—a Sunday and Monday morning—in a 1930s farm in Mississippi.

Three generations of Granny Vaughn’s descendants gather at her Mississippi home to celebrate her 90th birthday. Possessed of the true storyteller’s gift, the members of this clan cannot resist the temptation to swap tales.

Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential by Roger Stolle

Juke joint—two words often used, often abused. They convey an inherent promise of something real, edgy, from another time. All juke joints are blues clubs, but not all blues clubs are jukes.

Here, artist recollections and insights delve below the murky surface to tell the tales, canonize the characters and explain the special brand of blues bottled in these quasi-legal establishments. Author Roger Stolle works from the inside to educate and entertain with a mix of history, anecdote and discovery. It’s a wild ride.

Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant

In Dispatches from Pluto, adventure writer Richard Grant takes on “the most American place on Earth”—the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta. This is a book as unique as the Delta itself. It's lively, entertaining, and funny, containing a travel writer's flair for in-depth reporting alongside insightful reflections on poverty, community, and race. It's also a love story, as the nomadic Grant learns to settle down.

Follow the Southern Literary Trail through Mississippi & Alabama to visit the places that influenced well-known 20th century writers. If you are also interested in films set in Mississippi, click here.

Mississippi Films

Mississippi has long been appreciated by Hollywood for its authentic locations with many films based on inspiring true stories:

The Help

This is a 2011 period drama film written and directed by Tate Taylor and based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast, including Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer and Emma Stone. Skeeter, an aspiring author, decides to write a book on African-American maids and the struggles they face on a daily basis.

Greenbook

This is a 2018 biographical comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly. Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South by African American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley and Italian American bouncer Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga who served as Shirley's driver and bodyguard. The film was written by Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and Vallelonga's son, Nick Vallelonga, based on interviews with his father and Shirley, as well as letters his father wrote to his mother.[6] The film is named after The Negro Motorist Green Book, a mid-20th century guidebook for African-American travelers written by Victor Hugo Green.

My Nephew Emmett

A live-action short film directed by Kevin Wilson Jr. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards in 2018. Wilson won the Student Academy Award for Best Narrative, producing it while a graduate student at New York University.

At 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 28, 1955, 64-year-old Mose Wright tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew Emmett Till from two racists who are out for blood.

O Brother Where Art Thou

2000 crime comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson, with John Goodman, Holly Hunter, and Charles Durning in supporting roles

Ulysses Everett McGill and his companions Delmar and Pete, escape from prison to find a treasure Ulysses had buried before getting caught.

If you are also interested in reading books set or based on Mississippi, click here.

Literary in Mississippi

“I discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.” — Nobel Prize Winner, William Faulkner

William Faulkner is just one of the many literary giants whose love of literature began with a love for Mississippi. You can stroll upon his native soil at his home, Rowan Oaks, in Oxford and learn about his family roots. See the Mississippi that Tennessee Williams described as “the beauty spot of creation, a dark, wide spacious land that you can breathe in” by visiting his childhood home in Columbus. Then visit Eudora Welty’s home and gardens in the state capitol, Jackson, which are still just as they were when she would step out the door. These writers have given birth to a new generation of Mississippi literary heritage; from the master of legal thrillers, John Grisham, to the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner Donna Tartt and Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate of the United States in 2012. If you love literature, Mississippi’s literary heritage and the native soil invite you to explore the inspiration behind some of the world’s greatest writing. Follow the Southern Literary Trail through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia to visit the places that influenced well-known 20th century writers.

Mississippi Book Festival

Plans for the first Mississippi Book Festival, taking place in Jackson on 22nd August, are well underway and organisers have confirmed that this year’s festival line-up includes John Grisham, Greg Iles, Bill Ferris and Ellen Gilchrist – who are among more than 70 authors participating.

Holly Lange, Executive Director of the Mississippi Book Festival, said, “We are thrilled that John Grisham will be joining a great group of Mississippi authors in Mississippi’s inaugural Book Festival.  He has taken an active interest in the success of this event and plans on appearing at the festival throughout the day.  Because Mississippi is so rich with writers, we have assembled authors from a wide range of subjects that will appeal to every Mississippian.”

The Book Festival includes authors signing their books and covering topics such as history, short stories, poetry, civil rights, romance, sports & outdoors, children’s stories, biography, literary fiction, southern popular fiction, comics and the civil war.

The festival will conclude with a panel that includes Greg Iles, an early supporter of the event, whose new book, The Bone Tree, has received national critical acclaim.

John Evans, owner of Lemuria Books in Jackson, said “Mississippi’s literary contributions have enhanced our state and national culture. Our great writers are household names; many of their stories are our stories. But before great writers put pen to paper, they were first great readers.”

More information is available at msbookfestival.com.

Mississippi offers romantic destinations for all types of couples from the active adventurers to the sit, back and relax type! Here's some suggestions for when you really want to get away from it all and just unwind and reconnect.

The Alluvian in Greenwood for Spa Sophisticates

Alluvian Lobby, Greenwood, Mississippi

Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, the Alluvian Hotel and Spa provides the ultimate for a romantic break. The Alluvian has an award-winning restaurant serving up classic Southern dishes, while across the street is a luxury spa offering a complete menu of treatments. Couples can also enjoy cooking classes, or a full culinary weekend, at the Viking Cooking School, also located directly across the road from the Alluvian hotel in downtown Greenwood. Read more...

The Roost Hotel in Ocean Springs is perfect for the Beach Beauties

The Roost Hotel, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

The Roost is a boutique hotel located in the picturesque coastal town of Ocean Springs. A beautifully restored historic building, The Roost is walking distance from both delightful downtown restaurants offering fantastic coastal cuisine to serene sunsets on the beach. You and your special someone will find yourselves charmed by all that this laid-back beach town has to offer. Read more...

Monmouth Historic Inn in Natchez is one for the History Buffs

Monmouth Historic Inn, Natchez, Mississippi

An early 19th-century antebellum mansion set on 26-acres of beautiful gardens, Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens welcomes visitors to experience all that is charming about the South. Located in the heart of Natchez this Mississippi River city is where historic sites and breath taking views abound. This unique inn is listed as a National Historic Landmark where you will most certainly experience history and Southern hospitality at its finest. Read more...

Hotel Chester in Starkville suits the Retro Romantics

Hotel Chester, Starkville, Mississippi

Nestled in the heart of historic downtown Starkville, Hotel Chester was built in 1925 as a full service hotel. Not only has the historic hotel been lovingly restored, but the hotel’s unique Beer Garden was given a facelift in 2013 by world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay during Season 2 of his programme Hotel Hell. Visit this quaint college town and share a craft brew for two! Read more...

Tishomingo State Park offers the Adventure for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi

For outdoor adventure, Tishomingo State Park offers some of Mississippi’s best hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and even rock climbing. This breath taking state park has six rustic cabins and one cottage available to rent, making it the ultimate retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains - approximately 45-miles from Tupelo - Tishomingo State Park is steeped in history and scenic beauty. The famous Natchez Trace Parkway, the highway of the early 1800s and a scenic parkway, runs directly through the park. Discover the same timeless beauty that enchanted Indians and explorers centuries ago and treat your one and only to the great outdoors of Tishomingo. Read more...

For more information on any of the above, or alternative romantic accommodation ideas email Mississippi@deep-south-usa.com

 

The Mississippi Culinary Trail

Mississippi is considered a foodie’s paradise and we can tell you a million reasons why! The Mississippi Culinary Trail showcases the state’s true flavour. Each of the five regions has its own delicacies like hot tamales, slug burgers and comeback sauce. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a road trip junkie who has been through a million times – pull up a chair, put a napkin in your lap and get ready for an unrivalled eating experience.

The Culinary Trail itineraries, work their way around the state highlighting each region’s restaurants, cooks and food traditions that highlight Mississippi’s distinctive cuisine.

THE DELTA – Juke Joints, Hot Tamales & Mississippi Catfish

You don’t forget your first descent into the Delta. Whether you take the back roads from Hernando on Highway 304 or Highway 61 from Memphis: one minute your car winds through the tree-dotted landscapes of the hills and the next it levels out into flat farmland as far as the eye can see. As diverse as the crops that grow here and the music that made it famous, the Mississippi Delta is a melting pot of cultures – from African to Italian to Asian – the people here make this part of the state different from any other. And in no place is the Delta’s diversity more apparent than in its restaurants. Each dish is a prime example of how delicious histories fuse together for the ultimate culinary experience.

One such example is the hot tamale, called so because of its orangey-red colour and spicy taste. Its origins began around the turn of the 20th century when migrant Hispanic labourers worked in the cotton fields during autumn cotton picking season alongside African-American hired hands. A cornmeal mixture called "masa" encased the meat inside, keeping it insulated. This ensured a warm lunch for hungry workers at lunchtime. There is also a Tamale Trail through Mississippi, read more about it here.

THE CAPITAL-RIVER – Soul Food, Super burgers and Comeback Sauce

Mississippi’s Capital-River Region is a delicious blend of old and new.  From a mighty river and antebellum mansions to glittering downtowns with exciting nightlife, the restaurants here boast menus featuring soul food, authentic ethnic dishes and modern culinary delights.  Personalities like Cool Al and places called Fat Mama’s are why the eclectic heritage of Mississippi is one of its most celebrated treats. It’s the tastiest history lesson you’ve ever had.

THE PINESChoctaws, Catfish Alley and Family Cafés

The small towns of the Pines make for big flavours.  With barbecue and bakeries, cheese and cheesecakes, the tastes of this region take their influences from their earthy Native American heritage as well as the vital railroad lines that brought lumber, cotton and other goods into the area. Family-owned restaurants are a staple of this region and when you can stroll down a street known as “Catfish Alley,” you know you’ll find good cookin’!

This region acquired its name because of the prevalence of the Longleaf Pine Tree. The densely populated wooded bluffs and National Forests make for scenic driving. Outdoorsmen love this area because of the easy access to wilderness camping and hunting on what is considered some of the most beautiful terrain in the state. At one time cotton was king in this region, too, but it was predominately the railroad lines exporting lumber from saw mills that helped industrialise the area.
 

THE HILLS – Grills, Groceries & Drive-Ins

The characters in Southern fiction gather around tables laden with platters of their favourite dishes – platters of fried green tomatoes, pots of collard greens with a skillet of cornbread, slabs of barbecue pork ribs and slugburgers. Literary references are direct inspiration from the first-hand eating experience of lovingly crafted home-cooked meals. Even today, a meal in the Mississippi Hills doesn't just feed the body it ministers to your soul. 

THE COAST – Shrimp, Blowflies & Purple Parrots

Naturally, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has a different feel to it than the rest of the state, but it remains undeniably “Mississippi.”  The Coast offers the tourist a little of everything:  golf, gambling, art, architecture and, of course, great food. Years ago, immigrants from all over the world came to the region in search of employment in the seafood industry: Croatian, Vietnamese and French.  This delicious blend of cultures has seasoned the cuisine here with a flavour you won’t find anywhere else.

If you want fresh seafood, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has the menu to satisfy your craving.

Did you know Mississippi is home to:

  • Fried pickles

  • Championship Barbecue

  • Barq’s Root Beer

  • Comeback dressing

  • Viking Range Corporation & Cooking Schools

  • Catfish: Mississippi is one of the world’s biggest producers!

  • Hoover Sauce

  • Koolickles

  • Cheese Straws

  • Southern Pecan Beer

  • Dixon’s Pork Skins

  • Sweet Tea

For any further information on this Trail, please do get in touch with our team.

 

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