Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
A Novel (P.S.)

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Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is startling and original fiction that raises provocative questions of power and freedom, love and dependence. An enchanting and unforgettable novel based on little-known fact, Wench combines the narrative allure of Cane River by Lalita Tademy and the moral complexities of Edward P. Jones’s The Known World as it tells the story of four black enslaved women in the years preceding the Civil War. A stunning debut novel, Wench marks author Perkins-Valdez—previously a finalist for the 2009 Robert Olen Butler Short Fiction Prize—as a writer destined for greatness.


About Dolen Perkins-Valdez

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Dolen Perkins-Valdez's fiction and essays have appeared in The Kenyon Review, African American Review, North Carolina Literary Review, and the Richard Wright Newsletter. Born and raised in Memphis, a graduate of Harvard, and a former University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow, Perkins-Valdez teaches creative writing at the University of Puget Sound. She splits her time between Washington, D.C. and Seattle, Washington. This is her first novel.
Published December 16, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 308 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wench


By setting the novel in Ohio, the narrator sees what life is like for slaves, former slaves that are free, and wealthy African Americans that were free for several generations.

Jul 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)

Book Reporter

That makes it harder for her to identify with other slaves, so Tawawa House is a welcome respite where Lizzie can make friends who also have close and complicated relationships with their masters.

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)

AV Club

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The realizations about the cruelty and beauty Lizzie can find in the world, the tug of obligation between her own needs and those of her friends and children, and the power she holds even as a slave produce a believable coming-of-age story.

Jan 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)


We've got real-life stories, clever plotlines, a comic book that gives new meaning to the term "graphic novel"...Go ahead and make dad's day with a read he won't be able to put down.

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Open Salon

The hotel, the land and surrounding acreage was sold and very shortly thereafter became Wilberforce University, now the oldest African-American private university in the US] The series of events that the four slave mistresses (and their male companions – both enslaved and free) experience duri...

Nov 30 2010 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)

Fred Beauford

But no, abruptly the focus switches and the real star is revealed to be Lizzie, a young slave of some status – at home she is allowed to live in the Big House with the master and his wife rather than the cramped slave quarters.

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APOOO Bookclub

By Dera Williams • Mar 1st, 2010 • Category: Book Review 2010 • Email This Post • Print This Post Dolen Perkins-Valdez makes a formidable debut in the tale of four women poised on the edge of slavery and freedom in Wench.

Mar 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)

In the 1850s, Tawawa House, an Ohio resort, became a popular summer destination for Southern slave owners and their enslav

May 15 2016 | Read Full Review of Wench: A Novel (P.S.)

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