3.37 (609 ratings by Goodreads)
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It begins as a simple dream.
An idealistic environmental scientist moves his wife and young son off the grid, to a stretch of river bottom farmland in the Mississippi hills, hoping to position himself at the forefront of a revolution in agriculture.
Within a year, he is ruined.
When a corpse appears on his family's property, the farmer is convinced he's being set up. And so begins a journey into a maze of misperceptions and personal obsessions, as the farmer, his now-estranged wife, a predatory deputy, and a backwoods wanderer, all try to uphold a personal sense of honour.
By turns hilarious and darkly disturbing, Soil traces one man's apocalypse to its epic showdown in the Mississippi mudflats.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 165 x 237 x 33mm | 610g
  • Two Roads
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1473607035
  • 9781473607033

Review quote

hauntingly evocative * Guardian * A slow-burning noir influenced by the Southern Gothic tradition, Soil is a hugely impressive debut... Kornegay is superb at evoking the minutiae of small-town America, and despite their different settings - Soil vividly depicts the sweltering Mississippi Delta - this heart-breaking tragedy bears comparison with Scott Smith's A Simple Plan and Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. * Irish Times * part Greek tragedy and part darkly comic Deep South romp. The language which Kornegay uses to describe the mud plains of the Mississippi is wonderfully evocative with a suspense-filled finale which will make your heart pound * Press Association * Unnerving but touching, dark yet hopeful, gritty but oh, so smooth; Soil is the deeply human story of one man's personal apocalypse. Mississippi independent bookstore owner Jamie Kornegay has penned a debut novel that will establish him as a major force in the pantheon of elite Southern writers. I spent most of the time wondering why he didn't write a book sooner. It's not fair to keep something so wonderful away from readers. Would it be weird if I read it again? * Book Riot * Peppered with a great cast of odd and unusual characters, Kornegay delivers a novel above and beyond the Coen Brothers comparisons... Moving and affecting this book will suck you in from the opening pages. It will have you wincing and pleading, hoping and laughing and is a highly accomplished debut from a distinctive new voice in American fiction -- Jon Page * Pages and Pages Bookstore * a very assured first novel and a pleasure to read. The portraits of the leading characters are entirely convincing and the interactions carry a sense of impending calamity that propels the narrative to the final showdown. Jay in particular is well-drawn: an intelligent, thoughtful man frustrated by the trivial obsessions of modern culture and the failure of his enthusiasms, on the borderline of complete breakdown... Soil is very good stuff, and I look forward to seeing more from Jamie Kornegay before too long * * a brilliantly dark comic novel * Prima Magazine * Jamie Kornegay is a fantastic writer, and has created a darkly funny tale of murder, accusation and paranoia with some crazy-funny dialogue thrown in for good measure. If you liked Fargo you'll love Soil * Reading Room With A View * A slow burner at first, it soon builds into a page-turning crescendo and a suspense-filled finale that will leave you opened-mouthed in horror * South Wales Evening Post * Marked by wry humour, 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 * 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, author of LIFE AFTER LIFE * 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, and you will, too. * Brad Watson, author of THE HEAVEN OF MERCURY * Jamie Kornegay's novel Soil heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice. 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 * Let us stand, brothers and sisters, to applaud the arrival of an exquisitely deranged new voice to American fiction. 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. * Jonathan Miles, author of WANT NOT * 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 then 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, author of IN THE FALL * Soil is a super fine modern mash up! At turns funny and tragic, reverent and profane. Our mutual Godfather Barry Hannah, would be proud: Jamie Kornegay has written a book that celebrates the beautiful, messed up soul of the south. * Darcey Steinke, author of SUICIDE BLONDE * 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 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 *
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About Jamie Kornegay

Jamie Kornegay is an independent bookseller in Greenwood Mississippi, where he lives with his wife and three children. He started the Turnrow Book Co in 2006. Prior to that he was events coordinator and radio show producer for the renowned Square Books in Oxford Miss.
Soil is his first novel.
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Rating details

609 ratings
3.37 out of 5 stars
5 13% (80)
4 36% (218)
3 31% (189)
2 15% (89)
1 5% (33)
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