- The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi (2020)
- Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta (2015)
- Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa (2011)
- God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre (UK: Bandit Roads: Into the Lawless Heart of Mexico) (2008)
- American Nomads: Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders (2003) Also published as Ghost Riders:
- Travels with American Nomads by Little Brown (2003)
Richard Grant is an author, journalist, and television host. He currently lives with his wife Mariah, who is a Public Services and Instruction Librarian at Millsaps College, and his daughter Isobel in Jackson, Mississippi.
Grant was born in Malaysia in 1963 and spent time as a child in Kuwait before his family moved to London where he spent the majority of his childhood. Grant earned a history degree from University College in London and then moved to the United States. He lived in Tucson, Arizona and New York City before moving to the Mississippi Delta in 2012. He has since moved to the Jackson, Mississippi, area.
Grant grew up with an interest in traveling and writing. His first book American Nomads, Travels With Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers and Bullriders was published in the United States by Grove Press in 2003. The title in the United Kingdom, Ghost Riders, Travels With American Nomads, was published by Little Brown in 2003 and won the 2004 Thomas Cook Travel Literature Award.
Grant’s second book God’s Middle Finger, Into The Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre (Free Press, 2008), was published in England as Bandit Roads, Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre (Little Brown, 2008). The book was written after Grant traveled in northern Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental, an area nine hundred miles long that contained cave-dwelling Indian tribes and is one of the world’s largest area for production of marijuana and heroin.
His third book Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa tells the story of his first descent of the Malagarasi River in Tanzania and other events in Burundi and Rwanda. He has also been involved in the BBC documentary film American Nomads, which is hosted, narrated and written by Richard. In addition, he had a consulting role in the multiple-award-winning documentary Omo Child: The River and The Bush, about ending infanticide in Southern Ethiopia.
The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi, was published in September, 2020.
Grant writes for Smithsonian Magazine, The New York Times, Al Jazeera America, The Telegraph UK, Aeon and several other publications.
Review of The Deepest South of All puts focus on Natchez
This review was written by Susan O’Brien and is used by permission. It first appeared in the Clarion-Ledger on September 27, 2020.
The Deepest South of All puts focus on Natchez
When award-winning author Richard Grant receives an invitation to visit Natchez, once the shiniest jewel on the Mississippi River, he gladly accepts. He had heard stories about the riverfront town and was eager to see if they were true.
From that visit comes The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi,(Simon & Schuster), a compelling look at a town filled with contradictions and colorful characters.
No, it’s not a story like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or the fiction novel The Help. At its core, this book, part history and travelogue, is a poignant inspection of how Black and white communities exist separately, yet together, in a town that relies on its past to bring present-day tourists. The result is a dive into the culture of Natchez, not long ago touted as “Where the Old South Still Lives,” and its struggle to get past racial divides rooted in slavery.
Grant is a British author who transplanted from New York to the Mississippi Delta. That move led to his fascination with the South both past and present. It also led to his award-winning and best-selling 2015 book Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta. Just as with Dispatches from Pluto, Grant introduces readers to some of the town’s unique residents. He names names, but the folks have plenty to say for themselves. There’s Regina, a celebrity chef and King’s Tavern owner; Ginger, an older woman with a young husband and a passion for Christmas trees, costume jewelry and antique eyewash cups; and Buzz, an antiques dealer who wears a mink coat despite the heat; and Mimi, “a living encyclopedia of Natchez history,” according to Grant. There’s Ser Boxley, a Black activist who advocates for the truth about Natchez slavery; the late Nellie Jackson, known for her brothel and business sense; and Darrell Grennell, a one-term mayor who crochets beanies for cancer victims.
With an outsider’s point of view, the author shares in cocktails at the cemetery and pilgrimages and pageants at antebellum homes. He learns about the power and rivalry of garden clubs and their power-playing female members, and the conflicting opinions about segregation and equality. Grant also pays tribute to its past residents. The life of Abd al Rahman Ibrahim, a West African prince sold into slavery in the late 1700s, illustrates the struggle for freedom and the toll it took on families. Today, a town marker notes that Natchez was the site of the second largest slave market in the Deep South.
It’s that dark past that divides Natchez today. The town has a Black majority population, but most feel held back, unable to overcome poverty, discrimination and civil unrest that continues to simmer even now. While Natchez has a Black mayor (at the time of writing), Grant finds much of the town still feels powerless.
The Deepest South of All is an honest look at Natchez and its residents. With humor and insight, Grant honors the jewel of the South for its luster, blemishes and all.
Note: Susan O’Bryan is a retired Clarion Ledger newspaper editor and web content editor.
- Home page for author and journalist Richard Grant
- Sunday Book Review of New York Times for Dispatches from Pluto, 2015
- Smithsonian, Octobor, 2016, article by Grant about the return of the great American Jaguar.
- September, 2016, article by Grant in the Smithsonian about fugitive slaves and freedom.
- The Clarion-Ledger interview with Richard Grant on Delta book Pluto, Oct. 10, 2015
- Simon & Schuster’s page for Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
- Finding the True Power of Literature in Mr. Bill Faulkner by Grant (2015)
- I’m Not Passing Through: Interview with Richard Grant by Dan Holmes, 2014
- Jackson Free Press talks about Richard Grant, 2015
- The Guardian’s Review of Ghost Riders, 2003
- Richard Grant has returned from Mexico Alive, 2008
- Washington Post review of God’s Middle Finger by Bill Gifford, 2008