Mimi Herman for “The Kudzu Queen”
April 28, 2024 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pmFree
Fifteen-year-old Mattie Lee Watson dreams of men, not boys. So when James T. Cullowee, the Kudzu King, arrives in Cooper County, North Carolina in 1941 to spread the gospel of kudzu—claiming that it will improve the soil, feed cattle at almost no cost, even cure headaches—Mattie is ready. Mr. Cullowee is determined to sell the entire county on the future of kudzu, and organizes a kudzu festival, complete with a beauty pageant. Mattie is determined to be crowned Kudzu Queen and capture the attentions of the Kudzu King. As she learns more about Cullowee, however, she discovers that he, like the kudzu he promotes, has a dark and predatory side. When she finds she is not the only one threatened, she devises a plan to bring him down. Based on historical facts, The Kudzu Queen unravels a tangle of sexuality, power, race, and kudzu through the voice of an irresistibly delightful (and mostly honest) narrator.
Mimi Herman is the author of The Kudzu Queen, A Field Guide to Human Emotions and Logophilia. Her novel, The Kudzu Queen, was selected by The North Carolina Center for the Book for in the 2023 Library of Congress “Great Reads from Great Places” program and longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her writing has appeared in LitHub, Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review and many other journals. Mimi is a member of the Board of Directors for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist, a Warren Wilson MFA alumna, and a Hermitage Artist Retreat Fellow. She co-directs Writeaways writing workshops with John Yewell in France, Italy, Ireland, New Mexico and online. For more information visit her at www.mimiherman.com and www.writeaways.com.
Jeffrey Dale Lofton hails from Warm Springs, Georgia, best known as the home of Roosevelt’s Little White House. He calls the nation’s capital home now and has for over three decades. He is a Senior Advisor at the Library of Congress where he is surrounded by books and people who love books—in short, paradise. Red Clay Suzie is his first novel, a fictionalized memoir written through his personal lens as an outsider—gay and living with a disability in a conservative family and community in the Deep South. Red Clay Suzie was Longlisted for The Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize and was awarded the Seven Hills Literary Prize for Fiction. You can learn more about Jeffrey at https://jeffreydlofton.com/.
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