Ghosts of Mississippi

To judge by Janet Maslin’s New York Times review, The Help, a novel about black domestic servants working in Southern homes in the 1960s, sounds fraught, like trying to update Gone With the Wind. It’s written from the point of view of Skeeter, a white servant who considers herself superior to her African American counterparts because of her aspirations to publish a book. And it looks like the author, Kathryn Stockett, a Mississippi-native, might get into some serious trouble with this one. “Here is a debut novel by a Southern-born white author who renders black maids’ voices in thick, dated dialect,” Maslin writes. But despite the sensitive and racially-charged subject matter, Maslin concedes The Help is a “problematic but ultimately winning novel.”