Cotton Song (Paperback)

By Tom Bailey

Three Rivers Press (CA), 9781400083336, 331pp.

Publication Date: November 27, 2007



In World War II era Mississippi, the aftermath of a tragedy takes on all the intensity and heat of the Delta summer when the town of Ruleton copes with violence, racism, and a vengeful spree that threatens the life of a young girl and the soul of the small town.
In Hushpuckashaw County in the 1940s, many things are desperately unfair. Letitia Johnson, a young black mother and the nanny for one of the town's most distinguished couples, knows this only too well when the couple's baby is found drowned in its bath. Accused by the grieving family and the enraged townspeople, Letitia quickly sends her twelve-year-old daughter, Sally, out to hide in the brush before she is taken into custody. The angry mob would get revenge when they drag Letitia from her jail cell and hang her that very night. But they wouldn t get Sally.
Baby Allen, a courageous social worker, is assigned to Sally's case, and gradually coaxes the young girl out of hiding, wins her trust, and secures her protection. But once Sally is safe, Baby is left with the greater mission of uncovering the truth about who is responsible for the infant's death a shocking revelation that will change the ways and attitudes of a town that has been long in need of changing.
Beautiful and gripping, Cotton Song is the story of a woman's fight to save the child left behind after the horrific lynching that took her mother's life.

"From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

TOM BAILEY was born in the Mississippi Delta. Growing up, he lived in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia. The author of the novel The Grace That Keeps This World and a collection of short stories, Crow Man, as well as A Short Story Writer s Companion, and the editor of On Writing Short Stories, he has received a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation, and the 2006 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. Tom Bailey teaches in the creative writing program at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where he lives with his wife and three children. "From the Hardcover edition.""

Praise For Cotton Song

“Tom Bailey’s riveting and thought-provoking second novel, Cotton Song, zeroes in on a small town in Mississippi during the summer of 1944. Bailey’s novel succeeds on several levels: as a Faulkner-esque tale of empathetic but alienated characters, as an indictment of human brutality and as a litany of the South’s struggle to come to terms with the racial strife of its not-too-distant past.” – Booklist

“In his haunting second novel, Bailey presents a vicious history of race relations in his home state. With its heels firmly in the Southern gothic tradition, the novel depicts a sun-scorched landscape where prospects for justice are as wilted as the cotton plants that stud the dusty ground.” – Publishers Weekly

Cotton Song is lifted from the pedestrian by style, by bringing a different perspective to what in less skilled hands would be merely repetitive and shallow. Bailey, like the Mississippians he revered as a child, unwinds a story wrapped in the dialect and mannerisms of the region and drives it to a dramatic close.”
The Biloxi Sun Herald