Stephan Lee
June 14, 2013 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Southern Cross the Dog

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Bill Cheng
publisher
Ecco Press
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

Bill Cheng, a 29-year-old Chinese-American New York native, dares to set his lyrical debut in the Jim Crow-era Delta region. Southern Cross the Dog follows Robert Lee Chatham as he barely survives the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 as a child and then struggles as a young black man in the racist South. Along the way he encounters a tragic brothel owner, a blues pianist with dark powers, and white fur trappers who hold him hostage. Cheng’s sun-scorched prose recalls William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, and Cormac McCarthy. Not bad for a first-timer. A-

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