A.D. Nauman’s Down the Steep is a Thought-Provoking Work of Literary Fiction that Explores History, Social Politics and Overcoming Racism

In Down the Steep by A.D. Nauman, the teenage daughter of a prominent member of the KKK learns to overcome her own racism and challenges the toxic culture that spawned it.

Down the Steep is a groundbreaking work of literary fiction. Set in 1963 in small-town Virginia, the story follows Willa McCoy, a strong-minded teenager who longs to follow in the footsteps of her important father, a member of the KKK. Willa believes the Klan is daring and brave—like the father she idolizes. She wants only to rise in his esteem; he wants only to keep everyone in their place. When Willa encounters Langston Jones, a smart young Black man, she is forced to re-examine the racist culture she’s been born into. Under the guidance of a caring mentor, Willa develops an understanding of Langston, begins to question common assumptions, and breaks free from those who refuse to change. Her awakening alters both the course of her life and the fate of her family.

I began writing the novel during the Obama administration, because I did not believe the US had entered a ‘post-racial’ phase, as some pundits were saying. I felt a strong undercurrent of racism and misogyny pushing up against the surface of American life. Then, of course, it all erupted. I finished revising in 2020, after the death of George Floyd,” says A.D. Nauman. A literacy educator and highly acclaimed author, Nauman is committed to social justice. For Down the Steep, she conducted extensive research on the Civil Rights era, the KKK, school integration, and racism. In writing the book, she hopes to inspire readers to join the national conversation on racism and misogyny in the US. “My goal is for this novel to help readers better articulate their own thoughts about how the US might move forward with greater compassion towards all.

Nauman’s novel is more than just an eye-opening look into the past. Down the Steep offers startlingly poignant social commentary that calls into question how far we’ve really come as a society. The book tackles difficult subjects like racial inequity, misogyny, and culture with grace and acuity, shedding light on the ways historical trauma follows us into the present day. Nauman’s vivid, unflinching prose cuts through the stories we tell ourselves about the world we live in and calls our attention to the realities hiding just beneath the surface.

Down the Steep has received positive reviews from well-known literary organizations, authors, and reviewers around the world. Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist and best-selling author of I Have Some Questions for You, writes, “Down the Steep elegantly scrutinizes the horrors of the Jim Crow south, heroism gone awry, and the family and home you can never fully flee. A.D. Nauman writes with compassion and understanding...and she keeps the pages turning.” Midwest Book Review writes, “Deftly crafted and impressively original, Down the Steep by A.D. Nauman is a riveting read from start to finish...literary fiction at its best.”

Beautifully written, dark, and propulsive, Down the Steep is a standout. Available for sale on Amazon and other online bookstores, readers are encouraged to purchase their copy today: https://regal-house-publishing.mybigcommerce.com/down-the-steep/

About the Author

A.D. Nauman is the award-winning author of Down the Steep (Regal House Publishing) and Scorch (Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press). Her short fiction has appeared in Chicago Quarterly Review, Willow Springs, TriQuarterly, Roanoke Review, and many more literary journals. Her work has been recognized in Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize anthology, produced by Stories on Stage, broadcast on NPR, and granted an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award.

Nauman’s fiction investigates the sociopolitical in the personal, especially the impact of culture on identity and the mechanisms of power in personal relationships.

Now living in Chicago, Nauman grew up mostly in Tidewater, Virginia.

Please visit her website: adnauman.com

Connect with A.D. Nauman on Social Media



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