Stephanie Powell Watts-Author of the Week


If you’re a homebody, you know there’s nothing like a good book, a glass of wine, and a cozy place to get things moving. As reading is fundamental, so is reading a good author or, better still, a great author. Well, if you’re waiting for a new book from your favorite author, give Stephanie Powell Watts Book a test drive, you won’t be disappointed.

Stephanie Powell Watts was born and raised in Lenoir, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. She now lives with her husband and son in Pennsylvania where she is an associate professor of English at Lehigh University. In 2012, Stephanie won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for her debut collection of stories, We only take what we need. And in 2013 it was named one of the best summer reads by O: Oprah’s magazine. Her short fiction has been included in two volumes of the anthology Best New Stories from the South and won a Pushcart Prize.

Powell Watts’ stories explore the lives of African Americans in fast food and factory jobs, going door to door as ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses and pressing against the limits of small town, southern post-integration. Her first novel, Nobody’s coming to save us, follows the return of a successful native son to his home in North Carolina and his attempt to join the only family he ever wanted but never had. As Ms. Powell Watts describes it, “Imagine Gatsby the magnificent set in rural North Carolina, nine decades later, with desperate black people.

The collection of stories and the novel by Stephanie Powell Watts can be purchased on Amazon and read via Kindle. Here is a brief summary of Stephanie Powell Watts award-winning books!

Nobody’s coming to save us


JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina to build his dream home and woo his high school sweetheart, Ava. But he discovers that the people he knew and loved have changed, just like him. Ava is now married and wants a baby more than anything.

The decline of the town’s once-thriving furniture industry has made Ava’s husband, Henry, distant and frustrated. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, has put her own life on hold as she cares for and meddles with those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, keeps hanging around.

JJ’s newfound wealth forces everyone to think about what more they want and deserve in life than they already have, and how they might go about getting it. Can they shape their lives to match their wishes rather than their realities? Or are they resigned to the rhythms of the particular life they lead?

We only take what we need

We only take what we need: stories (story art) by [Stephanie Powell Watts]


The ten stories in this sound collection address both the ties that bind and the chasm that separates generations, from children confronted for the first time with the fallibility of their own parents to adults finding themselves forced to start over and over again.

In “Highway 18,” a young Jehovah’s Witness who goes door-to-door with an expert northern field service partner finds herself at a crossroads: Will she go to college or continue- serve the church?

“If You Hit Randall County, You’ve Gone Too Far” tells the story of a family trying to survive a tense dinner party for a son who has just been released on bail. And in the history of the collection’s title, a young girl suffers loss for the first time in the fallout of her father’s relationship with her babysitter.

Surprising, intimate and prescient in themselves, these stories construct a kaleidoscopic understanding of the individual and collective black experience over the past fifty years in the American South.

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