Award-winning novelist and writer Rod Davis is the recipient of the fiction award in the inaugural PEN Southwest Book Awards in 2005 for Corina’s Way (NewSouth Books, 2003). The debut novel is described by Kirkus Reviews as “a spicy bouillabaisse, New Orleans-set, in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor or John Kennedy Toole: a welcome romp, told with traditional Southern charm.”
His second novel, South, America (NewSouth Books, 2014), received strong critical praise as “a triumph of Southern noir,” that “brings to mind the Dave Robicheaux novels of James Lee Burke” and that “proceeds by indirection and sly tangent, through sudden explosions of violence into meditations on Southern history and its persistent burdens on the present.”
Cold Karma, the sequel to South, America, is forthcoming in 2017.
He also is author of American Voudou: Journey into a Hidden World (UNT Press, 1998, paperback, January 2000), a study of West African religion in the United States. It was selected as one of the “Exceptional Books of 1998” by Bookman Book Review Syndicate.
A six-part series on the Texas-Mexico border, “A Rio Runs Through It,” appears in The Best American Travel Writing 2002, the annual anthology from Houghton-Mifflin. “Her Dark Places,” on the life and death of writer Kathryn Marshall, was included in Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2015 in The Best American Essays 2016. His PEN/Texas-award-winning essay, “The Fate of the Texas Writer,” is included in Fifty Years of the Texas Observer (Trinity University Press, 2004). His PEN/Texas-award-winning essay, “The Fate of the Texas Writer,” is included in Fifty Years of the Texas Observer (Trinity University Press, 2004), and his Texas Monthly story, “Wal-Marts Across Texas,” is included in True Stories by David Byrne.
He is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, PEN Center USA, and the National Book Critics Circle. National professional honors have included a fellowship at the Yaddo Colony, a Eugene V. Debs Award for investigative reporting, a Lowell Thomas Award (Bronze) for personal commentary on post-Katrina New Orleans, and Gold and Silver Awards for feature writing from the City/Regional Magazine Association (CRMA).
His work has appeared in numerous publications including Southern Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Men’s Journal, Texas Monthly, Destination Discovery, The Texas Observer, The Progressive, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Biography, Yankee, Coastal Living, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Old Farmer’s Almanac, and Bon Appetit.
Davis served as executive editor at Cooking Light, a Time, Inc. magazine, and is a former editor of the critically acclaimed The Texas Observer and also a former editor of American Way, the magazine of American Airlines. He has been a senior editor at Houston City and D Magazine, a reporter for The Rocky Mountain News, and an editor at The Associated Press, as well as associate director of the Texas Film Commission and travel editor at the San Antonio Express-News. Formerly managing editor of the Teaching Tolerance project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, he launched and directed The Texas A&M University System’s first Veterans Support Office.
He received an M.A. in Government from Louisiana State University and studied further at the University of Virginia before joining the Army in 1970, serving as a first lieutenant in South Korea. He has taught writing at the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University in Dallas.