Southern Heroes

Hub City Writers Project: The Literary Lights

A South Carolina trio elevates the work of Southern storytellers

Illustration: Barry Falls

New York book publishers don’t always do right by the South. Manhattan offices might love a version of the region, sure, because airy beach romances and Appalachian stereotypes sell. But if you’re looking for a publishing house that not only allows but celebrates all the nuance and complexity and curiosity that the South contains, make room on the nightstand for Hub City books. The Spartanburg, South Carolina, independent publishing house, bookshop, and nonprofit trace back to a 1995 conversation among three writers who wanted to preserve the literary tradition of the Carolinas. Twenty-five years later, the focus has expanded to the entire South, and three women helm the whole thing (depicted, from top): executive director Anne Waters; Betsy Teter, a cofounder and current development director; and Meg Reid, director of Hub City Press. “The millions of people who live between Baltimore and Texas are offering us a wealth of stories and perspectives,” Reid says. “We’ll publish a Korean American from New Orleans, an Indian American writer from Atlanta, and so many other Southern voices. We’ve been able to mine, at a deeper level, the stories of people who actually live and work and write in the South.” Hub City further supports its authors with residencies, writing prizes, and projects such as the Cold Mountain Fund Series, a partnership with best-selling novelist Charles Frazier to publish a series of hardbacks. The next book in the series comes out in April: author Carter Sickels’s novel The Prettiest Star, which wrestles with the AIDS epidemic in small-town Appalachia. In May, find Sleepovers, the riveting and raw short-story collection of Ashleigh Bryant Phillips, a young writer who grew up in Woodland, North Carolina, population 712, and won the $10,000 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, judged last year by Lauren Groff. These and others are singular voices to be heard from hollers to skyscrapers.


NextCraig LeHoullierFull list: See all 30 heroes