Search for Books
ABA Mobile Menu
The Past Is Never: A Novel (Paperback)
On Our Shelves now
**WINNER of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction**
**WINNER of the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction selected by the Mississippi Library Association**
**WINNER of the 2019 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for Fiction**
**WINNER of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction**
**Finalist for the 2019 Colorado Book Awards for Literary Fiction**
"An ode to William Faulkner. . . . As Southern as it gets."—Deep South Magazine
A compelling addition to contemporary Southern Gothic fiction, deftly weaving together local legends, family secrets, and the search for a missing child.
Siblings Bert, Willet, and Pansy know better than to go swimming at the old rock quarry. According to their father, it's the Devil's place, a place that's been cursed and forgotten. But Mississippi Delta summer days are scorching hot and they can't resist cooling off in the dark, bottomless water. Until the day six-year-old Pansy vanishes. Not drowned, not lost . . . simply gone. When their father disappears as well, Bert and Willet leave their childhoods behind to try and hold their broken family together.
Years pass with no sign, no hope of ever finding Pansy alive, and as surely as their mother died of a broken heart, Bert and Willet can't move on. So when clues surface drawing them to the remote tip of Florida, they drop everything and drive south. Deep in the murky depths of the Florida Everglades they may find the answer to Pansy's mysterious disappearance . . . but truth, like the past, is sometimes better left where it lies.
Perfect for fans of Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Allison, The Past Is Never is an atmospheric, haunting story of myths, legends, and the good and evil we carry in our hearts.
About the Author
Tiffany Quay Tyson teaches writing at Denver's renowned Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her writing has been compared to Southern fiction titans like Flannery O'Connor and her first book, Three Rivers (Thomas Dunne, 2015), was a finalist for the Mississippi Institute for Arts and Letters Award for Fiction and also the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction. Though she grew up in Mississippi, she now resides in Denver, CO.
WINNER of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
WINNER of the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction selected by the Mississippi Library Association
WINNER of the 2019 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for Fiction?
WINNER of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize ?for Fiction
Finalist for the 2019 Colorado Book Awards for Literary Fiction
“Haunting and beautiful, steeped in history and myth, The Past is Never unwinds the darkest knots of what binds families together and reveals the marvels and monsters which lie within us all. In lucid, piercing prose, Tiffany Quay Tyson pushes to the raw edge of life, where the real and the unreal almost touch. This is great southern fiction.” —Kent Wascom, award-winning author of The Blood of Heaven and Secessia
“You hold in your hands Stranger Things but with a satisfying ending. In the sort of cleanly tuned prose that makes another fiction writer happy, Tyson penetrates your imagination with characters and places so real they feel like your own suppressed memories. I'll never look at the Everglades the same way again.” —Carrie La Seur, award-winning author of The Home Place
"The Past Is Never, with its nod to Faulkner, is steeped in local lore, mingling history and the mystery of a missing child into a heart-wrenching ride all the way to redemption. Tiffany Quay Tyson weaves a gripping tale in this stellar novel, taking readers from a haunted quarry in a Mississippi town to the menacing, gorgeous Florida Everglades. She is a masterful storyteller whose grand leaps of imagination, memorable characters and lyrical language delight the reader. The Past Is Never is an important addition to contemporary southern fiction." —Mindy Friddle, author of The Guardian Angel and Secret Keepers and fiction judge for the Willie Morris award
“Wise, disturbing, and quietly powerful, The Past Is Never is an American novel for our time. With rare and unflinching honesty, Tyson shows us the darkness, then reaches into it and extracts light. The discovery is breathtaking.” —Margo Catts, author of Among the Lesser Gods
“Tiffany Quay Tyson has written a gripping novel steeped in the Southern gothic tradition, with a compelling mix of contemporary grit. Dark as the quarry that spooks a Mississippi town and twisty as the Florida mangrove tunnels traversed in search of answers to unraveling family mysteries, The Past is Never had me turning pages long into the night.” —Kelly J. Ford, author of Cottonmouths
“Tyson writes characters so distinct you'll swear you can hear their footsteps outside your reading room, and does so in prose so elegant you have to remember to breathe. The Past Is Never is a beautiful, moving, brilliant novel.” —Benjamin Whitmer, author of Cry Father and Pike
“Creatures, real and imagined, fact and fable, inhabit Tiffany Quay Tyson’s South, a place stranger than life and all too real. The Past Is Never will alter your vision, make you see anew things you thought you already knew. It’s a flash of lightning in a summer storm.” —William Haywood Henderson, author of Augusta Locke
“A sumptuously written novel.” —Theresa Alan, New York Times bestselling author
“Tyson offers an intriguing exploration of family and identity alongside the complexities and emotions of life's haunting regrets.” —Booklist
“An ode to William Faulkner. . . . As Southern as it gets.” —Deep South Magazine
“Mesmerizing Southern Gothic. . . . The author's skillful storytelling reaches a high mark with this novel. Nothing is as it first appears in this dark, complex story that draws upon inner strength, extended family ties and personal determination. As with her first novel, Tyson has an award winner on her hands.” —The Clarion-Ledger
“Haunting, mysterious, and at times very disturbing, The Past is Never is an extraordinary example of Southern Gothic literature . . . one that is certain to keep you up long into the night.” —The Literary South
“Tyson's rich prose turns the Everglades into another world, distinct from Mississippi but just as mysterious.” —The Florida Book Review
“A notable contribution to Southern gothic fiction. . . . Tyson's stylistic writing and unique voice bring the reader into the heart of the Mississippi Delta and create an eerie atmosphere similar to that of William Faulkner's Sanctuary and William Gay's Twilight.” —New Orleans Review of Books
“Flannery O’Connor fans will enjoy The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson, a satisfying addition to contemporary Southern Gothic fiction.” —The Augusta Chronicle
“Tyson has proven to be a forerunner in the Southern Gothic literary tradition, and a standout in her generation of contemporary southern fiction writers.” —Oxford Citizen
“Tyson’s novel The Past Is Never revels in the line between personal and geographical histories . . . a profound entry point toward the region’s many interconnected caves and deep mysteries.” —Entropy magazine
“The Past is Never reads like a new kind of southern fiction.” —hottoddy.co
"In The Past Is Never, author Tiffany Quay Tyson spins a story that resonates with Southern Gothic tradition." —Colorado Sun