Sabbath Creek

A Novel by Judson Mitcham

"A story I cannot consider anything less than a triumph."—Fred Chappell, author of I Am One of You Forever


"At fourteen, Lewis is growing into his full life while Stroud, ninety-three, is nearing the end of his, but their radiant friendship overrides age and race. This fine novel is another heart-warmer like The Sweet Everlasting, and its understated prose is lit from within by Mitcham's respect for all the ways human love manifests itself between unlikely people, and then transforms them."
—Doris Betts, author of Souls Raised from the Dead

"Brief as it is, Sabbath Creek has more substance and emotional impact than many novels five times its length. Rarely does one find such strength in a piece of contemporary fiction, nor as much truth about certain conditions of the spirit. It is a story that holds one intriguingly entranced. A story I cannot consider anything less than a triumph."
—Fred Chappell, author of I Am One of You Forever

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In his highly anticipated second novel, Judson Mitcham, with plain but elegant language, creates an emotional impact rivaled only by his critically acclaimed debut novel, The Sweet Everlasting (Georgia). Sabbath Creek is the story of Lewis Pope, a fourteen-year-old boy thrust into an adult world of heartache and brokenness. When his beautiful but distant mother takes him on an aimless journey through south Georgia, the cerebral and sensitive Lewis is forced to confront latent fears—scars left from the emotional abuse of an alcoholic father and the lack of comfort from a preoccupied mother—that crowd his interior world.

At the heart of the journey, and the novel itself, is Truman Stroud, the quick-witted, cantankerous owner of the crumbling Sabbath Creek Motor Court, where Lewis and his mother are stranded by car trouble. His budding friendship with the ninety-three-year-old black man is his only reprieve from the mysteries that haunt him. Despite his prickly personality and the considerable burden of his own personal tragedies, Stroud becomes the boy’s best hope for a father figure as he teaches Lewis the secrets of baseball and the secrets of life.

Sabbath Creek is more than a coming-of-age novel. And while Mitcham provides a nuanced look at the relationship between a white adolescent boy and a black old-timer, his second novel transcends the tired theme of race relations in the South. This compassionate, smart, powerful work of fiction touches the pulse of the human spirit. It travels from the ruined landscape of south Georgia and takes us all the way through the ruined landscape of a broken heart.

Page count: 176 pp.
Trim size: 5.25 x 8

Read more about Judson Mitcham at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


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Judson Mitcham’s poems have appeared in Poetry, the Georgia Review, and Harper’s. His novels, The Sweet Everlasting and Sabbath Creek, are both winners of the Townsend Prize for Fiction. He teaches writing at Mercer University.