BOOK: Southern Light, Oxford, Mississippi Kindle Editionby Eileen Saint Lauren
William Faulkner finds himself slam-down in the midst of a Christmas Day birthday celebration abustle with hauntingly indelible characters in Eileen Saint Lauren’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, Southern Light, Oxford, Mississippi. A lifelong Faulkner aficionado, Saint Lauren launches readers into her darkly spellbinding holiday story with a 357-word opening sentence.
Southern Light Belies Darkness Beneath the Surface in Christmas Story with Gothic Twist
— Eleanor Franklin is turning 88 on Christmas Day, and party guests include a cat in a tailored Christmas coat, the ghost of a Civil War soldier, an eccentric caretaker who is a Holocaust survivor and William Faulkner himself in the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book, Southern Light, Oxford, Mississippi, from Eileen Saint Lauren.
“While the prevailing tone of the story is the excitement of a party for the aging Eleanor, in fact, the polar opposite reality develops, intimated by the recurrent appearance of the Southern light,” Saint Lauren said.
Spanning from the American Civil War 1861 to Christmas Eve 1960, the story unfolds in the town of Oxford, Mississippi, near Faulkner’s long-time home of Rowan Oak, now located on the property of the University of Mississippi.
Southern mystique permeates throughout, as Saint Lauren blends the real and the fantastic, provoking readers to contemplate and understand people whose life experiences and perceptions appear outside the norm though are very real.
Hidden among the typical tree-shaded antebellum Southern homes and façade of small-town peacefulness are tormented souls and a dark, 25-year-old secret to which only one of the troubled characters is privy.
The unexplainable and the supernatural impact of place and spirt controls the people and the events in Southern Light, Oxford, Mississippi, resulting in what Saint Lauren calls “a dark, hilariously sad Christmas story.”
“Together, the haunted characters and plot seal the message of this timeless novel: ‘Truth can stand alone in any light but more so amid the Southern light,'” she added.
About the Author
Eileen Saint Lauren was born in Hattiesburg and raised in the once two red-light town, Petal, Mississippi. She is an award-winning photojournalist and news and feature writer who worked early in her career as a commentator for Nebraska Public Radio and at Smith College Museum of Art. After graduating from Jones College in Ellisville, Mississippi, with an Associate of Arts Degree majoring in Journalism, she continued her education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree majoring in English. She then continued on with her education in creative writing at The Washington Center, Duke University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She divides her writing time between Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Madison, Mississippi. She was blind for three years due to back-to-back retina detachments at an early age. Although she did not regain her full sight, she is functional though visually disadvantaged.
Her first book, Goodlife, Mississippi, was sold in 10 countries and was a finalist for the 14th Annual International Book Award 2023.