Acclaimed Richmond Novelist of "The Yellow Birds" Announces Follow-Up


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Richmond author Kevin Powers is returning to the Civil War in his next book. - CHRISTY WHITNEY
  • Christy Whitney
  • Richmond author Kevin Powers is returning to the Civil War in his next book.

Kevin Powers, the Chesterfield native whose acclaimed debut war novel, "The Yellow Birds," was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award -- is already making noise with his second book.

Little, Brown and Company will be publishing "A Shout in the Ruins," which finds him returning to a battlefield setting just before the Civil War and ninety years later.

Powers, who still lives in Richmond, describes his highly anticipated follow-up, which is scheduled for 2018, in a press release sent out yesterday.

When I was a boy growing up in Chesterfield County, Virginia, I could walk to the end of my road, look out over a wild meadow, and see the ruins of an antebellum plantation house sitting alone amidst the expanding tide of modern suburban Richmond. The image lingered and lingers still. For a long time, a notion lingered with it: that the big white wreck of a house was vestigial, that the Civil War and its attendant causes were comfortably sequestered in a past entirely disconnected from the Virginia of my youth.

As a young man I went to a very different war from the one that subtly infects the thinking of many of my fellow Virginians. When I left that war and returned home, having been immersed in a world in which violence was among the most common forms of human interaction, I found myself committed to the idea that a refusal to challenge my assumptions would be a moral failing on my part. Fiction, as both a reader and a writer, has been my primary means of testing my reality. In 'The Yellow Birds,' I told a story that I hoped would test the reality of a soldier’s life at war and the challenge of returning home with the burden of its consequences. I did so for myself, but also with the ambition that I might find readers who would find value in this conscious direction of attention.

In this new book, 'A Shout in the Ruins,' I’ve tried to challenge the comfortable illusions about my home by telling a story with that wreck of a plantation house at its center. Much about the house and the people who lived in its orbit has entered the local mythology of Chesterfield County. But the truth of it is incomplete, both in what happened to cause the house to fall into ruin, and that the stories of those most affected by the pull of its gravity were never thought worthy of being recorded at all. I’ve tried to rectify these failings of history; to pull the story down from myth and complete it, and to widen the lens so that all may have a chance to speak. For most of my life, I have been afforded all the convenient means of evasion given to people like me about the history of my home by its institutions and culture. If nothing else, A Shout in the Ruins is my attempt to set aside all those comfortable assumptions and convenient evasions with the sincere hope that I might get at something like the truth.

Powers books are proving popular in Hollywood: The film based on "The Yellow Birds" directed by Alexandre Moors and starring Alden Ehrenreich, Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Jason Patric, Jennifer Aniston, and Toni Colette, will be released in 2017.

According to the release, North American rights for "A Shout in the Ruins" have been sold to Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch for Little, Brown and Company, with Vice President and Editorial Director Lee Boudreaux to edit. Powers was represented in the negotiation by Peter Straus of Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency, and the book is slated for publication in 2018.


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