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  • Citywide Reads 2011


     Wench Book Cover


     "I am inspired by people who perfect their craft, whether it be world-class tennis players, jazz musicians, dancers, or visual artists. That singular attention to expressing one aspect of our existence, sustained over a liftetime, is awesome to watch." -- Dolen Perkins-Valdez

    Set in the decade prior to the Civil War, Dolen Perkins Valdez's Wench is a fictional look into the lives and relationships of four enslaved mistresses—Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu—who meet across the course of three summers at Tawawa House, a summer resort in Xenia, Ohio. Brought to free land by their Southern masters, the four very different women share their lives and build friendships, while the temptation of escape and freedom dangles tantalizingly and frighteningly before them.

    Click here for our Wench resource guide (PDF).

    If you liked Wench, you might like:

    Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
    by Harriet A. Jacobs

    Property: A Novel
    by Valerie Martin

    The Help: A Novel
    by Kathryn Stockett

    Within the Plantation Household:
    Black and White Women 
    of the Old South
    by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese


    Dolen Perkins-Valdez was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, and attained her undergraduate degree at Harvard. She returned home to Memphis to pursue her MFA in Creative Writing, then moved to George Washington University for her Ph.D. studies in American Literature. Wench, her first novel, was named one of 2010's best books by Library Journal and NPR and was nominated for two NAACP Image Awards in Literature.

    Visit her at

     Dolen Perkins-Valdez





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