ABOUT THE BOOKSituated in the free state of Ohio, Tawawa House offers respite from the summer heat. A beautiful, inviting house surrounded by a dozen private cottages, the resort is favored by wealthy Southern white men who vacation there, accompanied by their enslaved mistresses Regular visitors Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet have forged an enduring friendship. They look forward to their annual reunion and the opportunity it affords them to talk over the changes in their lives and their respective plantations. The subject of freedom is never spoken aloud until the red-maned, spirited Mawu arrives and voices her determination to escape. To run is to leave behind the friends and families trapped at home. For some, it also means tearing the strong emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters.
When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet soon learn tragic lessons, that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the cruelest circumstances as they bear witness to the end of an era.
13 Things about Wench: A Novel and its author Dolen Perkins-Valdez
1. It took four years to write the novel.
2. Wench is my first novel.
3. I was born and raised in Memphis, TN
4. My first published short story was called “A Concrete Jungle”
5. I wrote three fiction manuscripts (that remain unpublished) before completing Wench. I call those my “apprentice novels.”
6. I didn’t visit the original site where Wench took place in Ohio until after the book was written.
7. The Tawawa House resort was sold to a religious group that established a school that would eventually become Wilberforce University
8. I love world music and one of my favorite artists is Susana Baca from Peru.
9. My editor at Amistad/HarperCollins also edited Edward P. Jones’ Pulitzer-prize winning novel The Known World.
10. I have been writing seriously for thirteen years.
11. My class at Harvard College included authors Judy Budnitz and Murad Kalam
12. If I ever meet Toni Morrison, I think I will faint.
13. I am really eager to share the stories of the characters of Wench: Lizzie, Mawu, Sweet, and Reenie!!
ABOUT THE AUTHORDolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays The Kenyon Review, African American Review, PMS: PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, Richard Wright Newsletter, and SLI: Studies in Literary Imagination. She is a 2009 finalist for the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Award. A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Dolen splits her time between Seattle and Washington, DC. She is a faculty member of the University of Puget Sound where she teaches Creative Writing. You can visit Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s website at www.dolenperkinsvaldez.com