Acclaimed author David Joy will appear in conversation with local author Ace Atkins at 5 p.m. Thursday at Off Square Books to promote his latest novel, “The Line That Held Us.”
Joy said he looks forward to his visit to Oxford because he already has relationships with both Off Square Books and Atkins. He first met Atkins when he appeared at Off Square Books in 2015, after the publication of his first novel.
“I’ve known Ace since my first novel,” Joy said. “We went on a publicity tour for Putnam Books, and we’ve been friends ever since. I consider him one of my few writing friends. He’s one of the most talented and hardworking folks I know — just good people. He’ll be there heckling me.”
Joy’s novel, a noir rooted in the spirit of Appalachia, depicts the cover-up of an accidental death and of the brutality resulting from the cover-up’s failure. It is a story of family, friendship, vengeance and desperation.
Both this dark tale and Joy’s prior work have invited comparisons to such Southern literary greats as Flannery O’Connor, Tom Franklin and Cormac McCarthy.
According to Joy’s publicist, Elena Hershey, the novel has allowed Joy to “firmly and definitively assume his place within the Southern Gothic literary canon.”
The North Carolina author writes about the South and, specifically, Appalachia for two reasons. On one hand, Joy writes about what he knows — the Southern culture and place he feels tied to. On the other, he is driven by the desire to speak for the underrepresented constituents of this environment, who often cannot speak for themselves.
Joy’s works are largely defined by an acute sense of place and have earned the author national recognition for his honest and empathetic depictions of the Appalachian region and its inhabitants.
Square Books general manager Lyn Roberts, who cited the benefits of authors appearing in conversation with each other, said she is looking forward to the event.
“Ace Atkins is a good friend of the store, and it’s great,” Roberts said. “He’s not only a great writer, but it’s really nice to have authors in conversation because they can bring out a lot more.”
Roberts said these events are crucial to maintaining the relationship between Square Books and Oxford’s literary community. Atkins, a resident of Oxford and a New York Times best-selling author, is a prominent member of this community.
This event in particular is a special opportunity for students and community members to hear from one of today’s foremost voices in Southern literature.
This conversation between authors is free and open to the public. Attendees will have the chance to ask questions as well as have their books signed after the discussion.