the vain conversation: a novel

Foreword by Clarence Major and Afterword by T. Geronimo Johnson

Anthony Grooms began his enviable career with the marvelous novel, BOMBINGHAM, that informed the reader that often some of the truest history of Americans is told in the stories of those who live at the periphery of the big historical goings-on.  Now, with his new novel, THE VAIN CONVERSATION, Grooms continues with that special way of seeing human history with the journey of Lonnie Henson, a white boy in rural Bethany, Georgia, at the end of World War II.

We ask many things of the writers we have taken to our hearts – honesty, sincerity, sensitivity, “old verities,” to borrow Faulkner’s phrase. I suspect that those are things Grooms did not have to learn because they were already in his blood before he wrote his first words.

         Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World 

                            and winner of the Pulitzer Prize











Honored by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association!

February 2019

The Vain Conversation has been designated an Honor Book for Fiction for 2019 by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

First presented at the Second National Conference of African American Librarians in 1994, the BCALA Literary Awards acknowledge outstanding works of fiction and nonfiction for adult audiences by African American authors. Recipients of these awards offer outstanding depictions of the cultural, historical or sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora and embody the highest quality of writing style and research methodology.

















Alabama-based singer-songwriter Eric Erdman has written a very moving response to THE VAIN CONVERSATION for the TRIO project, which brings together visual artists, musicians and writers in conversation.  Click on the image of Erdman to hear his song.  Click on the TRIO logo to learn more about the program and to see other artists.

Join the Conversation!

Order an autographed copy from

A Cappella Books. Click here for details.

The Vain Conversation vividly evokes the horrors of American racism, but Anthony Grooms never denies the humanity of his characters, whether black or white, young or old. His novel achieves what only the best literature can give us: it refuses too-easy consolations or too-easy condemnations. When we finish the last page, the book is not finished with us. It will haunt us.

--Ron Rash, New York Times Best Selling Author, Serena, The World Made Straight, One Foot in Eden

Story River Books/

University of South Carolina Press, 2018

ISBN 1611178827,

ISBN 13 9781611178821