Silas House to Speak on Love, Faith, and Judgment in His Novel SOUTHERNMOST

On February 25, author Silas House will speak in person on his timely and powerful novel Southernmost, as a guest of the Oxford American magazine’s speaker series South Words.

House’s novel tells a story that manages to be both fresh and painfully familiar for many in the south. When evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men after a catastrophic flood, his choice threatens to sweep away the foundations of his own life.  His family and congregation struggle with their conflicting feelings as religion, love, and judgment collide. Southernmost shows with tenderness how a life-changing rupture can transform into a story of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Silas House will be joined in conversation by Seth Pennington, the editor-in-chief of Little Rock’s own Sibling Rivalry Press, which the American Library Association has frequently recognized on its annual list of recommended LGBTQ readings.

Though House’s work has special poignance for readers with ties to the LGBTQ community, its relevance spreads far and wide in a time when many people find themselves divided from their loved ones by deep ideological differences.

House commented on that widespread dilemma of painful family breaks: “I wanted to write a novel that was more from the point of view of people who love somebody with whom they fundamentally disagree,” House said. “And I think that all of us can relate to that in one way or another even if it’s not about LGBTQ issues.”

The South Words series brings renowned Oxford American contributors to town for readings and on-stage conversations with standouts from the local literary community. Exceptional authors pair with local moderators who lead illuminating conversations about themes in the books. The rewards of the format were amply demonstrated by the first event in the series, when National Book Award finalist Sarah Broom engaged in a spontaneous and profound conversation on the importance of home with Oxford American Jeff Baskin Fellow, KaToya Ellis Fleming.

OA Editor Eliza Borné appreciates the many sponsors who have come together to support the unparalleled caliber of the South Words series. “All of our sponsors bring different resources to the series, from financial support that allows us to pay our visiting writers to promotional support that helps us get the word out. Of course, the Central Arkansas Library System and Six Bridges Book Festival have been instrumental in the series’ success by providing the venue and book sales, among other resources.”

The South Words events are hosted in the CALS Ron Robinson Theater at Library Square, a comfortable state-of-the-art facility with full concessions including craft beer and wine. The University of Central Arkansas’s College of Fine Arts and Communications is the presenting sponsor of the series.

Borné believes audience members will find much to take away from their encounters with such bright and relevant authors.

“The South has always been home to some of our culture’s finest and most significant writers, and this series celebrates that legacy,” Borné said. “The writers on our program are writing about important themes that are relevant to all of our lives—themes like race, class, love, and family. At the OA, we believe in the power of literature to encourage new perspectives and understanding. I hope people come to South Words, become inspired by these authors, and learn something new—about themselves, about someone different from them, and about the world.”