Jamie Kornegay

By Jamie Kornegay

*Indie Next List Selection for March 2015*

*ABA Winter/Spring 2015 Indies Introduce Debut Author*

*Winter 2015 OKRA Pick*

Soil is the fictional story of an environmental scientist, Jay Mize.  Jay is distrustful of modern society yet hopes to redeem it by positioning himself at the forefront of a revolution in agriculture, he moves his family off the grid to a stretch of riverbottom farmland in the Mississippi hills.  After suffering drought, flood, pestilence and family turmoil, Jay uncovers a dead body in his water-logged field.  Rather than alert the authorities, he mounts a paranoid cover-up, which invites more unwanted trouble to his sacred homestead.

Beset by a growing madness, Jay is pitted against his estranged wife, who has become unhinged by her own trials, and a local deputy, whose interest in the family is not strictly in the pursuit of justice. Through a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, these characters endeavor — however clumsily — to uphold their own sense of honor as they tumble toward a showdown in the treacherous mudflats.

With elements of rural noir, dark comedy and domestic dysfunction, Soil is a modern tragedy that pays homage to Mississippi's great literary tradition — from William Faulkner to Larry Brown and Barry Hannah — and adds a manic dose of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment for good measure.

 

 

Some early, favorable reviews:

 

 

“Dig your hands into this Soil to find gutty and peppery writing, an almost recklessly bold imagination, audacious empathy, and a story so twisty and volatile that nearly every turn feels electrifyingly unexpected. This rough-n-tumble model of Southern literature—the vehicle of choice for the late greats Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Harry Crews, and William Gay—has felt stalled on the roadside for several years now; Jamie Kornegay just pulled up with some big-ass jumper cables.”

―Jonathan Miles, author of Want Not and Dear American Airlines

 

 

“A darkly droll, epic novel told in a style I’d have to call a deceptively swift amble through a most vividly rendered, watery Delta world. Anyone from Coleridge to Twain to Faulkner to William Gay would have loved reading this book.”

―Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives

 

 

"Mississippi has done it again, given us yet another brilliant writer. Welcome, Jamie Kornegay, to a long line of kick-ass storytellers. Soil is one of the most memorable novels I've read in years, with a killer story told in killer language. Highly, highly recommended."

―Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

 

 

“Jamie Kornegay's powerful debut novel, Soil, is just as rich, dark and primal as the title suggests and it is hard not to discuss the various characters' plights without slipping into metaphor as they both literally and figuratively dig and tunnel and turn up all that is buried.  This novel is brimming with suspense while continuously locating the fine line separating good from evil.  Just as the soil delivers all that is decomposed and lost, it also brings promise of future growth and in this case, it is in the form of the protagonist's son.  Kornegay's rendering of hope and innocence against the backdrop of depravity and darkness is admirable and moving.”

―Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life

 

 

"Jamie Kornegay's novel Soil heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.  This book is atmospheric 'as all get-out,' as my grandmother might have said, and it crackles with intensity.  It's everything I want a novel to be, a fine story well-told with characters I won't forget, set in a world so real you can smell it and taste it.  Kornegay's something special."

―Steve Yarborough, author of The Realm of Last Chances and Safe From the Neighbors

 

 

“Jamie Kornegay has written a book that celebrates the beautiful messed-up soul of the South.”

—Darcey Steinke, author of Suicide Blonde and Sister Golden Hair

 

 

“First, with his debut novel, Soil, Jamie Kornegay has delivered a rip-roaring, sucker-punch of a tale, a page-turning lightning bolt of prose that crackles with keen insight, bold storytelling, pathos, and humor. There's more to it than that, however. If tragedy and comedy are the same object, only viewed through different lenses, Kornegay has minted a turbulent world where nothing is quite as it seems. The wretched is often hilarious, the gruesome elicits an uncomfortable chuckle of recognition, the well-meaning are revealed as self-serving, and finally, digging through these layers, we see the humbling and deeply touching struggle for love, for understanding, in a world that offers small hope for either.”

—Jeffrey Lent, New York Times bestselling author of In the Fall

 

 

“Jamie Kornegay's prose is as rich and fertile as the Mississippi Delta landscape that spreads across the pages of Soil. It is poetic, both in its language and in the soulful complexity of its characters, all of them fallen and trudging along the hard worn path of redemption on dirty hands and knees.”

―Michael F. Smith, author of Rivers

 

 

“Marked by wry humor, unforgettable characters, and riveting suspense, Jamie Kornegay’s Soil is a spellbinding Greek tragedy played out against the backdrop of the choked river-bottoms, sprawling fields, and dusty roads of the Mississippi Delta. A brilliant, haunting portrait of the havoc one desperate man’s decisions and dreams can wreak upon himself and those around him. This remarkable novel springs from rich earth indeed, and the end result is a book that will leave readers reeling.”

—Skip Horack, author of The Eden Hunter and The Other Joseph

 

 

“[A] beautifully written first novel . . . . Penetrating characterizations and a well-charted story bode well for future work from this author.

Publishers Weekly

 

 

“A strong sense of place ... distinguishes this first novel about lives spiraling out of control…. Shadows are relieved by shafts of dark humor and deep empathy.”

Booklist

 

 

“Kornegay's skillful writing keeps the story gripping and the atmosphere haunting.”

Kirkus Reviews

 

 

“Jamie Kornegay has confidently announced himself as a voice to watch. Centered around Jay Mize, an idealistic farmer whose luck just keeps breaking bad, the book kicks into high gear when the lead discovers a corpse on his failing farm. Fearing he’s being framed by his less-progressive neighbors, the farmer hides the discovery rather than reporting it. Kornegay’s book is a tension machine, tightening the screws on the increasingly paranoid Jay Mize in a way that’s impossible to put down. With Soil, Kornegay joins Wiley Cash and Tom Franklin as a strong voice in the world of gothic Southern fiction.”

—Josh Christie, Sherman’s Books, Yarmouth, ME

 

 

"Kornegay imbues his characters with depth and his story with suspense, but the real star of the book is the pungent and foreboding Mississippi earth itself. A promising debut from an assured new voice in Southern fiction.”

 Library Journal