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NC's Jason Mott takes a surreal trip through tragic subject matter in 'Hell of a Book'

Jason Mott, who grew up in and still lives in the little town of Bolton in southeastern North Carolina, recently won the National Book Award in fiction. His book is called “Hell of a Book.” It lives up to its title.

Photo by Michael Becker

It jumps from funny to surreal tragic from page to page as Mott tells the story of a writer much like himself who goes on a disorienting book tour and finds himself shadowed by a young boy who might be alive, dead or a figment of the writer’s imagination.

And there’s a parallel story about a Black family’s struggle to believe that America is not a dangerous place for a Black family to be.

This is Mott’s fourth novel. His first, “The Returned,” was made into a TV series called “Resurrection” that aired on ABC for two seasons. We talked about writing cinematically, about how “Hell of a Book” helped him confront his own past … and also about two American icons: Nicolas Cage and “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

This was quite a ride.

Show notes

Other music in this episode

Lobo Loco, "Country Boy" and "Miracle Tour"

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.