Writers Institute

Tom Bailey, Ph.D.


Tom Bailey

Tom Bailey was born in Greenwood, Mississippi. Growing up he lived in North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Virginia and West Virginia. His most recent works are novels Cotton Song and The Grace that Keeps this World. His first book of short stories, Crow Man, was published in 2003.

He is also the author of A Short Story Writer's Companion (2001) and the editor of On Writing Short Stories (2000). Widely published in literary journals and magazines, including DoubleTake, his fiction has been reprinted in such anthologies as The Pushcart Prizes and New Stories From the South and cited in The Best American Short Stories. He is the recipient of a Newhouse Award from the John Gardner Foundation and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. Bailey is winner of the 2006 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction.

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What are SU students saying about Tom Bailey?

"As a student, nothing is more valuable than learning the art of fiction from a practicing writer. In classroom workshops, we're secure with the knowledge that we're being taught by real writers, not just scholars of literature." – Sal Pane '07

"It's clear that Bailey both believes and practices the lessons that he passes on to his students." – Patrick Henry '08

"Bailey's enthusiasm for writing carries into every aspect of the classroom." – Aniell Daczka '08

"Both Bailey's literary voice and his physical voice are very distinct, and to hear Dr. Bailey live is a worthwhile experience. His voice is resonant and captivating. Hearing an author's interpretation of a character's voice - in essence, when the writer becomes the actor - is very interesting to me." – Rob Shick '09


 Book by Tom Bailey

Cotton Song (2006): Shaye Areheart Books of Random House

"The action moves along at a brisk pace. Bailey's writing is graceful and fluid...An ambitious novel." --Washington Post

"A haunting, complex drama that¹s both familiar and shocking. Cotton Song is a harrowing ride." --Delta Magazine

In World War II-era Mississippi, the aftermath of a tragedy takes on all the intensity and heat of the Delta summer when the twon Ruleton copes with violence, racism, and a vengeful spree that threatens the life of a young girl and the soul of the small town.

In Hushpuckashaw County in the 1940s, many things are desperately unfair. Letitia Johnson, a young black mother and the nanny for one of the town's most distinguished couples, knows this only too well when the couple's baby is found drowned in its bath. Accused by the grieving family and the enraged townspeople, Letitia quickly sends her twelve-year-old daughter, Sally, out to hide in the brush before she is taken into custody. The angry mob would get revenge when they drag Letitia from her jail cell and hang her that very night. But they wouldn't get Sally. Once Sally is safe, Baby is left with the greater mission of uncovering the truth about who is responsible for the infant's death -- a shocking revelation that will change the ways and attitudes of a town that has been long in need of changing.

Beautiful and gripping, Cotton Song is the story of a woman's fight to save the child left behind after the horrific lynching that took her mother's life. 

 Book by Tom Bailey

The Grace that Keeps this World (2005): Crown Publishing Group

"Tom Bailey has a great (and lyrical) imagination." --Andre Dubus

"Read Bailey for his fine prose, his clear, unforgiving eye...and for the pure excitement of discovering a writer who's arrived." --Jayne Anne Phillips

Among the dense forests of Adirondack country in upstate New York, survival is a way of life. The inhabitants of these unblemished acres are hunters, fishermen, and loggers. They eat at one restaurant, drink at one tavern, and pray at one church. It is a community of men who anxiously await the first day of hunting season, and of women who dread the dangers of it.

The Hazen family embodies this frontier spirit. Gary and Susan--high school sweethearts married for many years, born and bred in Lost Lake--live a simple, honest life, and have instilled values in their two grown sons by example. But despite his efforts, Gary senses that his sons are starting to pull away. His younger son, Kevin, has ambitions that extend far beyond the snowy edges of their small town. And his eldest, Gary David, so fears disappointing his father that he is keeping an important part of his life secret.

The Grace That Keeps This World is an account of the days leading up to the annual opening of buck hunting season. It is a story about family, community, and the shared values that underlie human realationships. And ultimately, it is a tale of profound loss, human fallibility, and the love--romantic, neighborly, or familial--that can sometimes blur our line of vision.

 Book by Tom Bailey

Crow Man (2003): Etruscan Press

"An impressive gathering...richly imagined and sensitively crafted stories of loss, mystery, hurt, and unexpected redemption." --Joyce Carol Oates

"Individually, the stories in Tom Bailey's debut collection are harrowing, heartbreaking, daring, a nd unexpectedly comic; collectively they are intensely lyrical, beautifully constructed, and radiantly alive. Crow Man marks the arrival of a remarkable new voice, a writer of astonishing range and virtuosity."--Tom Perrotta

 Book by Tom Bailey

A Short Story Writer's Companion (2001): Oxford University Press

"Ideal for anyone interested in writing short stories or for introductory courses in fiction writing, A Short Story Writer's Companion is a highly accessible guide to the craft of creating short fiction. Written in an engaging style, this book enables beginning writers to recognize what works in writing short stories, what doesn't, and why."

--from the cover

 Book by Tom Bailey

On Writing Short Stories (2000): Oxford University Press

"On Writing Short Stories is a unique collection of original essays by seven professional writers.  It is the only text of its kind to offer writing advice from such authors, editors, and instructors as Francine Prose, Joyce Carol Oates, Frank Conroy, Andre Dubus, Robert Coles, Tom Bailey, and C. Michael Curtis, with a foreword by Tobias Wolff.  These experts give voice-voices-to a dialogue about the art and craft of writing short stories."

--from the cover

 Book by Tom Bailey

The Pushcart Prize, XXIV: Best of the Small Presses (2000)

"The PushCart Prize is the only annual anthology to showcase the very best writing from America's alternative, literary presses."

--from the cover

 Book by Tom Bailey

New Stories from the South (1990): Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

"This is the fifth annual volume of Shannon Ravenel's pick of brand-new Southern short stories.  In New Short Stories from the South the emphasis is very definitely on the new.  Here's a new-edition-every-year series with an up-to-the-minute purpose: to offer a selection of current work by the literary South's current--and rising--stars."

--from the cover


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