A Kennesaw State English professor is coming out with a new novel on March 1 about life in the Southern U.S. during the Jim Crow era.
Anthony Grooms has been a literature teacher in countries such as Ghana and Sweden, but since 1994 he has worked as a professor at KSU, specializing in creative writing, short stories and literature.
His newest novel, titled “The Vain Conversation,” is inspired by true events and tells the story of life in the south in the 1940s. The story is centered around the 1947 lynching of two black couples about 30 miles east of Atlanta and is told from the perspective of three separate people who go about their lives trying to make sense of the atrocities that they witnessed.
Grooms was born just a few months after the Brown v. Board of Education court case, and the novel draws on his own unique perspectives and insights. “The Vain Conversation” has received praise from writing award winners to best-selling authors.
Gray Stewart, the winner of the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year award for his novel “Haylow,” said, “With expert prose and emotional complexity he looks through the eyes of witness, victim and member of the mob to explore themes of redemption, salvation and universal love. Considering headlines these days, ‘The Vain Conversation’ is not just timely, it’s important.”
Author Ron Rash, a fellow poet and short story writer, also spoke highly of the KSU professor’s upcoming publication.
“His novel achieves what only the best literature can give us: it refuses too-easy consolations or too-easy condemnations,” Rash said. “When we finish the last page, the book is not finished with us. It will haunt us.”
According to his website, Grooms began publishing his work when he was in graduate school. Grooms has had his poetry published in 10 different contemporary poetry compilation books.
Grooms has also published a collection of his own short stories titled “Trouble No More” and a previous novel titled “Bombingham.”
Grooms emphasized that there is power in short stories that you can’t find in any other writing.
“Because it is short, its emotional impact is delivered in one quick punch, so to speak,” Grooms said. “The novel, by contrast, is long and is usually read over the course of several days. Thus its emotional impact, though it can be powerful, comes in increments.”