Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Voices From the Past

In his latest interview, Frank Reiss sits down with Kathryn Stockett to talk about her latest novel. He gives us this preview.

Kathryn Stockett's new book The Help was described in its New York Times review as a "soon to be wildly popular novel." Well, happily for the self-effacing, mild-mannered Atlanta resident, the paper of record knows what they're talking about. Earlier this year the debut work made it to Number 15 on the Times' bestseller list.

The book was a long time in the works, and as Stockett tells us in our Cover to Cover interview, it was rejected over 40 times before finding its way to the desk of Putnam's new star editor, Amy Einhorn.

The novel is the story of Skeeter Phelan, who, like Stockett is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter, a white daughter of priviledge, sets out to tell the stories of the town's black domestic workers, whose lives, in 1960s Mississippi, were for the most part not even considered by the families who employed them.

Stockett's inspiration for writing the book was the very voice of the black woman who largely raised her, and in her book, she channels that voice as well as several others in creating not only the novel's dialogue, but also the "book within a book," which Skeeter manages to publish as a kind of a field study.

The Help is resonating with a lot of readers who probably recognize voices in their past in Stockett's work. In Stockett's own voice, I think listener's will her a private, shy and somewhat vulnerable young woman who has now exposed a bit of herself in this work of fiction. It is not autobiographical, but it reveals something very personal to her: a deep love for the woman who raised her.

Tune in this Sunday night at 8 to hear the interview.

Listen to this episode