Dolen Perkins-Valdez Discusses Her Book ‘Wench’

Wench, tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. In her debut novel, Dolen Perkins-Valdez explores the moral complexities of slavery and raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence.

“Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It’s their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don’t bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.”

Watch the video of Dolen Perkins-Valdez during a visit to  Hood College below.

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2 thoughts on “Dolen Perkins-Valdez Discusses Her Book ‘Wench’

  1. I found Wench fascinating, too. It iluimlnates a little known part of our past. I grew up near the area where the resort was, and found the local aspect interesting, though there aren’t any real remains. I recommend this book very highly as a well-written, involving piece of historical fiction.

  2. Oooo this is on my list as of right now. I for one am the type of intellectual/American who untadsdenrs the experiential concept of unique better than minority and who only feels pigeonholed when she looks at her own book shelf. What can I say? This is what I love to read. It’s the hardest to do because of the wisdom, talent, courage, etc that it takes and yes, it happens to all be about that uniqueness to which I referred. Ah well. Off to order Wench.

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