blairknobel-headshotThe South is full of stories.

Maybe that’s why we raise the best storytellers. O’Connor, Capote, Lee, Faulkner. Big voices with an unmistakable drawl, whose tales were inspired by the dark and luminous, esteemed and forlorn, rich and wanting characters of this place.

Like his literary lineage, David Joy is Southern writer who picks at the heart of human nature. He explores violence like a boy in the woods, kicking over a log to see the bugs underneath (see “Ode to Joy,” by Scott Gould, page 68). By pushing into these dark places, he aims to reveal the essence of who we are. “Art should illuminate the human condition. That’s what I’m trying to do here—show us something about ourselves,” he says.

As Southerners, we are a complicated bunch. Among our paradoxical behavior, we adore animals and hunt them, host parties and seek seclusion—but this duality shapes our lives, keeps us entertained, and fascinates those who don’t live here.


Joy, 33, makes his home in the mountains of western North Carolina, where life and death draw a little closer. His debut novel Where All Light Tends to Go has received national acclaim, and Joy’s next work The Weight of This World hits shelves in March. He gnaws at life’s bones. (That’s another thing we do in the South.) “I want to write a book that you can hang around your neck for the rest of your life,” he says—something that sticks.

We carry our stories close to the vest here, but we also live to tell them. Life in the South is unlike anywhere—and it unfolds in ways beautiful and destructive, right before our very eyes.



Blair Knobel


Twitter / Instagram: @LBKNOBEL