Joseph B. Atkins, Editor

Mojo Rising

Contemporary Writers

Short stories by some of the South’s most talented contemporary writers, including New York Times bestselling author Ace Atkins, Sheree Renee Thomas, William Boyle, Julie Smith, Steven Barthelme, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Jere Hoar, Corey Mesler, James L. Dickerson, Margaret Skinner, and the editor of this book, Joseph B. Atkins, a journalism professor at the University of Mississippi and author of a novel, Casey’s Last Chance.

Available formats: Hardcover, paperback, and eBook


Often an editor’s idea of contemporary southern literature is rooted too deeply in setting and mood. The dozen stories collected in Mojo Rising: Contemporary Writers by Joseph B. Atkins offer a vibrant counterpoint. These eight men and four women take risks with voice, setting, point of view and genre and the payoffs for the reader are enjoyable and edifying. In “Beg Borrow Steal,” Maurice Carlos Ruffin expertly creates space for the reader to become the protagonist, who spends his time searching for some way other than his feet to move from one place to another. While Sheree Renee Thomas’s charming “Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book” explores the difficult truth that you don’t get what you want because you want it—even with the help of palm readers and dreams. Margaret Skinner transforms our antiquated idea of kin into a nuanced understanding of the American Dream and in doing so, revitalizes two clichés. This collection proves that the link between southern writers is not regional storytelling, but fearless storytelling.

– Courtney Miller Santo, English Department, University of Memphis, Director of River City Writers Series


By Joseph B. Atkins

The Long Last Ride of El Canejo
By Ace Atkins

Beg Borrow Steal
By Maurice Carlos Ruffin

By Steven Barthelme

Lou Groza
By Margaret Skinner

Prey Don’t Tell
By Jere Hoar

By Julie Smith

Conjuration: A Fabliau
By Corey Mesler

The Second Coming
By James L. Dickerson

Incident at Three Corners
By William Boyle

Aunt Dissy’s Policy Dream Book
By Sheree Renée Thomas

The Singapore Holy Man
By Joseph B. Atkins

In Memoriam
Girl on the Road
By Larry Brown