Category Archives: Literary Fiction

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan Looks at Racism in the South after World War II

I couldn’t find a famous author’s birthday for today, but I found a historic event. On June 15, 1215, King John signs Magna Carta at Runnymede, England.

mudboundThe book I’ve chosed this week is the novel MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Last year I received the book as part of a prize package for being a top ten winner in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest. I added Mudbound to my stack of “to be read” books. It took me several months to get to it, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

The story takes place in the Mississippi Delta at the end of World War II, where two Southern families, the McAllans, who are white, and the Johnsons, who are black, struggle to eke out a living raising cotton in the unforgiving delta. When the rain falls, the waters rise , creating a sea of mud, isolating the families from town.  

The book opens from Jamie McAllen’s point of view. Jamie is a damaged war hero. He and his brother Henry and Henry’s wife Laura are in a rush to bury the McAllens’ father before the storm sets in. Right away I wondered, what happened to the father. Ronsel Johnson is also a war hero, but some in the community are not as welcoming because of the color of his skin.  

Mudbound is a beautifully written story about love and loss and betrayal and the ugliness of racism. Told from the points of view of Jamie, Henry, and Laura McAllan and Ronsel, Hap, and Florence Johnson, whose voices are clear and compelling. Mudbound is a lovely work of fiction with a haunting story.  In 2006 Mudbound won the Bellweather Prize for fiction, which awarded biannually to a first literary novel that addresses issues of social justice

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Filed under Fiction, Literary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Uncategorized