“South of Little Rock,” the debut novel of G. Rollie Adams, historian and former president and CEO of The Strong National Museum of Play, was named winner of the 2019 Regional Fiction Award in the Next Generation Indie Books contest, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishing Group, and received the 2019 National Indie Excellence Award for Regional Fiction: Southeast.
It has also been awarded the Bronze Medal for Best Regional Fiction, South, in the 2019 Independent Publishers’ IPPY Awards.
Released in late 2018, the book explores the love, hate, courage and fears of a small town in southern Arkansas adjusting to desegregation and the social changes of 1957. Adams, author and co-editor of several nonfiction books on American history, grew up in southern Arkansas during this period.
“‘South of Little Rock’ is remarkably relevant to the issues of today,” said Charles Phillips, co-author of “What Every American Should Know about American History.” “Through vivid descriptions and intelligent dialogue, it explores the racial tensions of the 1950s South in a way that speaks to a modern audience.”
Set in the fictional Unionville, “South of Little Rock” unfolds amid the social unrest spurred by Gov. Orval Faubus’s decision to resist desegregation, creating a national crisis and forcing President Dwight Eisenhower to send federal soldiers to Arkansas. Sam Tate, a councilman, merchant and widower tries to navigate his family through these trying times, putting him at odds with the town’s newspaper editor and several outspoken opponents of integration. Tate finds surprising allies and companions, including a hard-headed teacher from the north, and he works to teach his children right and wrong in a town where neighbor is often pitted against neighbor and where the threat of social violence always hovers.
“Growing up in Arkansas, I saw firsthand the tensions caused by social change and the way it can push people apart,” said Adams. “More importantly, though, I saw the ways that it can unite people and give us hope. That’s the spirit I tried to capture in ‘South of Little Rock,’ and it’s something that we can all take a lesson from today.”
“South of Little Rock,” published by Outskirts Press, is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats at most major retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Review copies are available upon request. For more information, visit georgerollieadamsbooks.com.