Dee Stewart

A literary journalist and publicist since 2003, Dee Stewart's writings have appeared in Precious Times, Romantic Times, Spirit Led Woman Magazines and on The Master's Artist Blog. She is also the owner of DeeGospel PR (,) Christian entertainment PR boutique located in Atlanta, GA. Visit her Christian Fiction Blog, which turned 6 years old in July at Her debut novel "A Good Excuse to Be Bad (Kensington/Dafina) releases Summer 2011. Talk to her in real-time on Twitter at @deegospel.

Multicultural Fiction

Two Controversial Novels on Faith and Distortion

Just after I turn in my novels to my publisher, I begin my hunt for a deep spring read, the kind of novel that makes me drop to my knees and thank God that my editor didn’t read it before she signed me, the kind of novel that makes me want to be a better craftsman at writing, the kind of novel that explores topics about my faith that challenges my stewardship, the kind of novel that affirms why I lean on the body of Christ when I’m weak, and the kind of novel where I don’t mind sentences as long as this one. This month I want to share two literary novels with strong Christian themes that are past the fringe of traditional Christian fiction but are at the heart of the dilemma that affects us today.

A Land More Kind Than HomeA Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash (Morrow) is a chilling account of the investigation of an autistic and mute boy’s death that happened mysteriously during an evening Sunday church service in a small Southern town. The novel has three narrators: Jess, the younger brother of the deceased boy; Sheriff Barefield, the investigator on the crime; and Adelaid Lyle, a former member of the church and child advocate. At the heart of these accounts are their eerie descriptions and run-ins with troubled pastor Carson Chambliss.

This story is exceptional because of Cash’s storytelling and prose. If you like Southern gothic or are a fan of Harper Lee and William Faulkner, you will love this contemporary Southern tale.

An excerpt …

I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what it was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavor you could think of, hard candy by the quarter-pound, moon pies and crackerjack and other things I hadn’t thought about tasting in years. And if I’d closed my eyes I could’ve seen what the building had been forty or fifty years before that, back when I was a young woman: a screened door slamming shut, oil lamps lit and sputtering black smoke, dusty horses hitched to the posts out front where the iceman unloaded every Wednesday afternoon, the last stop on his route before he headed up out of the holler, the bed of his truck an inch deep with cold water. Back before Carson Chambliss came and took down the advertisements and yanked out the old hitching posts and put up that now-yellow newspaper in the front windows to keep folks from looking in. All the way back before him and the deacons had wheeled out the broken coolers on a dolly, filled the linoleum with rows of folding chairs and electric floor fans that blew the heat up in your face. If I’d kept my eyes closed I could’ve seen all this lit by the dim light of a memory like a match struck in a cave where the sun can’t reach, but because I stared out through my windshield and heard the cars and trucks whipping by on the road behind me, I could see now that it wasn’t nothing but a simple concrete block building, and, except for the sign out by the road, you couldn’t even tell it was a church. And that was exactly how Carson Chambliss wanted it.

As soon as Pastor Matthews caught cancer and died in 1975, Chambliss moved the church from up the river in Marshall, which ain’t nothing but a little speck of town about an hour or so north of Asheville. That’s when Chambliss put the sign out on the edge of parking lot. He said it was a good thing to move like we did because the church in Marshall was just too big to feel the spirit in, and I reckon some folks believed him; I know some of us wanted to. But the truth was that half the people in the

congregation left when Pastor Matthews died and there wasn’t enough money coming in to keep us in that old building. The bank took it and sold it to a group of Presbyterians, just about all of them from outside Madison County, some of them not even from North Carolina. They’ve been in that building for ten years, and I reckon they’re proud of it. They should be. It was a beautiful building when it was our church, and even though I ain’t stepped foot in there since we moved out, I figure it probably still is.

The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 2: The Testimony by Sharon Ewell Foster (Howard)

Is it revisionist history or an uncovered account? Foster, a historian and award-winning author, tackles the life of the infamous slave preacher turned slavery revolt leader and murderer Nat Turner. She offers a different story of his life, the story of one man’s struggle for freedom and the redemption of his people. Based on actual trial records, interviews with descendants, official documents, and five years of research, The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 2: The Testimony is a story of the quest for truth and the true meaning of liberty.

This compelling story sheds a harsh light on Protestantism and its hand in slavery in the South. It stands up to our current Christian worldview and yet challenges our interpretation of that worldview. If all men are equal in the eyes of God, then why aren’t all men treated equal by God’s chosen?

The Ressurection of Nate Turner, Part 2An excerpt…

“God always answers, but He does not always say what we desire.” Her[Nat Turner’s mom] hope and prayer had been to stay in Ethiopia with her family. She had prayed to never leave. “If God always speaks what you want to hear, then you only speak to yourself!”

She always frowned then. “I did not want to leave.” His mother told him the stories over and over and she always sighed. “I did not want to leave.” But other people had prayed and their groans and cries reached God’s ears. “They were captive Africans, like us, taken from their families.” God had heard and sent her in the belly of a ship on a journey, like Jonah, to plead with the captors to free the captives and repent. His mother had been stolen from Ethiopia. She often cried when she told him of the rapes, the humiliation, and bondage, and of Misha and of her baby floating to their graves.

She could not bear to speak of her daughter, the sister he did not know, the little girl she had left behind, could not speak his sister’s name. “Sometimes the things we must do for others are more important than our own lives.” Her eyes seemed focused on a place far away that he could not see. Then she shrugged and came back to him.

“Egzi’ abher needed you born here—he needed me to be the ship that carried you.” He was born to be a deliverer, a prophet, a man of mercy. “God is lover of us all, the oppressed and the oppressor.”

She told Nat Turner—the son she called Nathan, secretly calling him Negasi, her prince—that he was a living answer to the captives’ prayers. It was a heavy burden for a little boy to bear. But he was born to it.

It was a family debt he owed.