Writer to Watch
By Gin Phillips and Fannie Flagg
251 pages. Hawthorne.
They are twin black holes of desperation: the family well, down which, one summer night, 9-year-old Tess Moore watches an unknown woman throw her baby, then steal away; and the mine where her father spends his coal-black days. Narrated in turn by Tess, her siblings, and her parents—each haunted by the unfathomable act of that shadow woman—Gin Phillips's novel, The Well and the Mine (Hawthorne), is part mystery, part meditation on poverty, race, and community in small-town America during the 1930s. A quietly bold debut, full of heart.