"In West Mills offers a languid, hazy feeling, somewhat like walking barefoot down a dusty Carolina road on a summer's day. It makes you want to linger." ―The Philadelphia Tribune
Let the people of West Mills say what they will about Azalea "Knot" Centre; they won't keep her from what she loves best: cheap moonshine, nineteenth-century literature, and the company of men. And yet, when motherhood looms, Knot begins to learn that her freedom has come at a high price. Low on money, ostracized from her parents and cut off from her hometown, Knot turns to her neighbor, Otis Lee Loving, in search of some semblance of family and home.
Otis Lee is eager to help. A lifelong fixer, Otis Lee is determined to steer his friends and family away from decisions that will cause them heartache and ridicule. After his failed attempt to help his older sister, who lives a precarious life in the North, Otis Lee discovers a possible path to redemption in the chaos Knot brings to his doorstep. But while he's busy trying to fix Knot's life, Otis Lee finds himself powerless to repair the many troubles within his own family, as the long-buried secrets of his troubled past begin to come to light.
Spanning decades in a rural North Carolina town where a canal acts as the color line, In West Mills is a magnificent, big-hearted small-town story about family, friendship, storytelling, and the redemptive power of love.
"From the first page, Winslow establishes an uncanny authority and profound tone that belie the book's debut status. The precision and charm of his language lure us in and soothe us…He paints a community so tightknit and thorough it becomes easy to forget the people in it don't exist… Much of the story is told through dialogue, rich and truthful conversations among characters reminiscent of those in August Wilson's plays, expressing so much more than what is on the surface."
― The New York Times Book Review
De'Shawn Charles Winslow was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He is a 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and holds a BFA in creative writing and an MA in English literature from Brooklyn College. He lives in New York.