Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Ominous and timely, No One Is Coming to Save Us explores the sense of displacement and dispossession that burrows within communities—and individuals—when work vanishes. The novel follows residents of Pinewood, a declining North Carolina factory town, as they ponder the twin perils of staying stuck in the stubborn red clay beneath them or moving earth to cut their own new roads.

Author Stephanie Powell Watts’ story could take place in countless small towns around the country—she points out that Allentown, Pennsylvania, is playing out a similar narrative with the steel industry’s uprooting. But the Lehigh University English professor (and Carolina native) planned from the outset to tell a North Carolina foothills story. She wanted to write with reverence and curiosity about home.

“I’d like for [readers] to think about the characters living in the South, in this post-integrationist era, and think of them just as people that could be their neighbors or their friends. And think of them with grace and charity,” says Watts. “I’d love it if people thought, ‘This is a human story and this could happen.’ ”

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