Novel ideas in Mississippi

Hari Kunzru’s forthcoming novel, White Tears, had its genesis in a road trip that took him through Mississippi and a subsequent immersion in the blues, he disclosed in a piece for The Guardian at the weekend. In the course of that piece, he mentioned the great Mississippi flood of 1927, which was one of the most destructive in the history of the United States. The flood itself was central to another recent novel set in the Deep South, Southern Cross The Dog (2013), the debut of Bill Cheng. Cheng, a Chinese-American born in New York, was also inspired by the blues, but unlike Kunzru he didn’t take to the road. He had never set foot in Mississippi when he wrote his book, which is a remarkable feat of imagination.  You can still read an extract on Deskbound Traveller.

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