California Book Club Selection, 2021
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Los Angeles Times “Best Books of 2003”
One of LAist’s € “20 Novels That Dared To Define A Different LA”
Book Sense 76 Pick
Winner of the Lambda Literary Award
Winner of the Ferro-Grumley Literary Award
Winner of the ALA’s Stonewall Honor Award
Finalist for the Edgar Allen Poe Award
Libération (France) “50 Books for the Summer—2007”
Numerous Campus Reads and Community Reads Selections

In Southland, her award-winning second novel, Nina Revoyr brings us a compelling story of race, love, murder, and history against the backdrop of Los Angeles. A young Japanese-American woman, Jackie Ishida, is in her last semester of law school when her grandfather, Frank Sakai, dies unexpectedly. Frank was a veteran of World War II who, many years before, had owned a store in the Crenshaw District, one of the first racially mixed neighborhoods in the city and now the heart of L.A.’s black community. While trying to fulfill a request from his will, Jackie discovers that four black teenagers were killed in the store during the Watts Riots of 1965 — and that the murders were never solved or reported. Along with James Lanier, a cousin of one of the victims, she tries to piece together the story of the boys’ deaths. In the process, Jackie unearths the long-held secrets of her family’s history — and her own.

Southland explores the fragile understandings and sometimes painful misunderstandings that occur across the lines of race and culture. It is also the story of an ever-changing city. Moving in and out of the past, from the shipping yards and internment camps of World War II; to the barley fields of the Crenshaw District in the 1930s; to the means streets of Watts in the 1960s; to the night spots and garment factories of the 1990s, Southland weaves a tale of Los Angeles in all of its faces and forms.


“Fascinating and heartbreaking…An essential part of L.A. history.”
L.A. Weekly

“Compelling….never lacking in vivid detail and authentic atmosphere, the novel cements Revoyr’s reputation as one of the freshest young chroniclers of life in L.A.”
Publishers Weekly

“With prose that is beautiful, precise, but never pretentious, she brings to vivid life a painful, seldom-explored part of L.A.’s past that should not be forgotten. If Oprah still had her book club, this novel likely would be at the top of her selection list.”

“A sweeping view of Los Angeles that’€™s rarely in the spotlight.”

“A remarkable feat. Revoyr’s novel is honest in detailing Southern California’s brutal history, and honorable in showing how families survived with love and tenacity and dignity.”
–Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales and Highwire Moon

“Nina Revoyr gives us her Los Angeles, a loved version of that often fabled landscape. Her people are as reticent and careful as any under siege, but she sifts their stories out of the dust of neighborhoods, police reports, and family legend. The stories—black, white, Asian, and multi-racial—intertwine in unexpected and deeply satisfying ways. Read this book and tell me you don’t want to read more. I know I do.”
–Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

“Subtle, effective…[with] a satisfyingly unpredictable climax.”
Washington Post

“What makes a book like Southland resonate is that it merges elements of literature and social history with the propulsive drive of a mystery, while evoking Southern California as a character, a key player in the tale.”
Los Angeles Times

“….an ambitious and absorbing book that works on many levels: as a social and political history of Los Angeles, as the story of a young woman discovering and coming to terms with her cultural heritage, as a multigenerational and multiracial family saga, and as a solid detective story.”
Denver Post

“The plot line of Southland is the stuff of a James Ellroy or a Walter Mosley novel…But the climax fairly glows with the good-heartedness that Revoyr displays from the very first page.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

Southland is a simmering stew of individual dreams, family struggles, cultural relations, social changes, and race relations. It is a compelling, challenging, and rewarding novel.”
–Chicago Free Press

Southland gripped my attention and would not let go until I turned the last page.”
–International Examiner