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the vain conversation


Inspired by true events, The Vain Conversation reflects on the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia from the perspectives of three characters—Bertrand Johnson, one of the victims; Noland Jacks, a presumed perpetrator; and Lonnie Henson, a witness to the murders as a ten-year-old boy. Lonnie’s inexplicable feelings of culpability drive him in a search for meaning that takes him around the world, and ultimately back to Georgia, where he must confront Jacks and his own demons, with the hopes that doing so will free him from the grip of the past.

Winner of an Honor Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and named one of 25 Books Georgians Must Read for 2017.



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

Grooms' incisive, gripping, and empathetic novel dares to probe beneath the humiliations, customs, and fears that sustain injustice implies that our seemingly eternal conversation on race, to which the title refers, may not be as vain as it often seems.

-Kirkus Reviews



In his barracks, Walter Burke is trying to write a letter to the parents of a fallen soldier, an Alabama man who died in a muddy rice paddy. But all he can think of is his childhood friend Lamar, the friend with whom he first experienced the fury of violence, on the streets of Birmingham, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. The juxtaposition is so powerful—between war-torn Vietnam and terror-filled “Bombingham”—that he is drawn back to the summer that would see his transition from childish wonder at the world to his certain knowledge of his place in it.

Walter and Lamar were always aware of the terms of segregation—the horrendous rules and stifling reality. Their paper route never took them to the white areas of town. But that year, everything exploded. And so did Walter’s family. As the great movement swelled around them, the Burkes faced tremendous obstacles oxsf their own. From a tortured past lingered questions of faith, and a terrible family crisis found its climax as the city did the same. In the streets of Birmingham, ordinary citizens risked their lives to change America. And for Walter, the war was just beginning.

BOMBINGHAM was named a Washington Post Best Book, won the Lillian Smith Prize for Fiction, was a Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and a city-wide read for Washington, D. C.

Also avaialbe in paperback and audiobook.


Too many of our younger generation know nothing at all about the struggle, the sacrifices, the dying of our people during these demonstrations of the fifties and sixties. And older people too should be reminded, so that they'll never forget. . .[Bombingham] is about a subject and a time we should never forget.

- Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying

trouble no more


Anthony Grooms’ award-winning collection of short stories, TROUBLE NO MORE, set throughout the American South, portrays middle class African Americans who reflect on the Civil Rights Movement, class, race, personal struggles and triumphs. Whether they are of a boy discovering betrayal, a man wrestling with his commitment to social activism, or a young woman’s discovery of the complexity of social protest, these stories—comic or poignant—are about families, intact and estranged, about ordinary lives in extraordinary times.  

Writing in MELUS, a critical journal of multi-ethnic literature, Diptiranjan Pattanaik says that TROUBLE NO MORE demonstrates “the insider’s profound knowledge of the history and struggles of African Americans, while consistently managing to circumscribe [a] breadth of understanding with a tender story-telling art.”

Also available in as a Kindle ebook in a critical edition.

Anthony Grooms’ first collection of stories takes place mostly in the South of the 1960s, a time when the 'colored' sign at a fast-food restaurant may have been removed, but 'still people knew which line was which.' And the talk that animates these vignettes — from lunch counters to juke joints to family dinner tables — is an affecting reminder of the quiet courage, ingrained wariness, and rueful humor with which such individual decisions reshaped an uncertain community

-Alicia Becker, New York Times Book Review


ice poems


"My mother did not know me when I knocked" begins "Homespace", a poem about returning home from war. Like many of the twenty poems in this collection, the narrator speaks of alienation and salvation. The collection ends with a psalm, the refrain of which is, "Celebrate man."


In Grooms’ work the ordinary is important precisely because it does not readily communicate symbolic meaning between poet and audience… language pins the reader down, forces him to hear startling, almost surrealistic discloses…I am never lulled by his language but always alert to the familiar made unfamiliar, and the grotesque and deniable made recognizable.

-Robert Kelly, The Chattahoochee Review



Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book.

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