Mothers and Strangers

Essays on Motherhood from the New South

Edited by Samia Serageldin, Lee Smith

264 pp., 6.125 x 9.25

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-5167-5
    Published: April 2019
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-5168-2
    Published: February 2019
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5692-0
    Published: February 2019

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Awards & distinctions

A Spring 2019 Okra Pick: Great Southern Books Fresh Off the Vine, Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

In this anthology of creative nonfiction, twenty-eight writers set out to discover what they know, and don’t know, about the person they call Mother. Celebrated writers Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith have curated a diverse and insightful collection that challenges stereotypes about mothers and expands our notions of motherhood in the South. The mothers in these essays were shaped, for good and bad, by the economic and political crosswinds of their time. Whether their formative experience was the Great Depression or the upheavals of the 1970s, their lives reflected their era and influenced how they raised their children. The writers in Mothers and Strangers explore the reliability of memory, examine their family dynamics, and come to terms with the past.

In addition to the editors, contributors include Belle Boggs, Marshall Chapman, Hal Crowther, Clyde Edgerton, Marianne Gingher, Jaki Shelton Green, Sally Greene, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Eldridge “Redge” Hanes, Lynden Harris, Randall Kenan, Phillip Lopate, Michael Malone, Frances Mayes, Jill McCorkle, Melody Moezzi, Elaine Neil Orr, Steven Petrow, Margaret Rich, Omid Safi, James Seay, Alan Shapiro, Bland Simpson, Sharon K. Swanson, and Daniel Wallace.

About the Authors

Samia Serageldin is the author of several books, including The Cairo House and Love Is Like Water, and is an editor of South Writ Large. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
For more information about Samia Serageldin, visit the Author Page.

Lee Smith is the best-selling author of over a dozen books, including Dimestore: A Writer’s Life and Guests on Earth. She lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
For more information about Lee Smith, visit the Author Page.


“It is striking to observe, again and again, how the unique character of any mother reverberates, in ways small and large, in the lives of her children. . . . There can never be too many mother essays in the world for me.”—Chapter 16

“Readers will remember and discover throughout this collection. They will recall stories told and retold in their family’s legacy and possibly trip over ones that have deliberately been left unmentioned. Readers will marvel at the beauty of their hearts first and forever cry: ‘Mama.’”—All About Women Magazine

“A great collection of essays on mothers by your favorite Southern writers.”—Livin’ Upstate

“Is there literary territory more vast than motherhood? This collection of essays, edited by Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith, delivers such varied portraits within its broad scope.”—Chapel Hill Magazine

“The essays and pieces in this book were so fascinating and the voices were so vibrant. Stories about growing up, changing relationships with mothers, becoming a mother, and everything in between.”—Book Riot

“Samia Serageldin and Lee Smith have curated a diverse and thoughtful collection that challenges stereotypes about mothers and expands our notions of motherhood in the South.”—Augusta Chronicle

Multimedia & Links

Listen: Host Frank Stasio talks to co-editor Samia Serageldin and contributor Michael Malone in this episode of WUNC's The State of Things: The Women We Love Most Are the Ones We Know Least (05/01/2019, running time 17:27)

Read: A Q&A with co-editors Serageldin and Smith at The Literary South. (April 2019)