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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.
“Funny, sad, and tender… Mimi Herman has written a novel that possesses a true and hard won understanding of the South.”
—David Sedaris, author of Happy-Go-Lucky
About Mimi Herman: Mimi is a Kennedy Center teaching artist, director of the United Arts Council Arts Integration Institute and co-director of Writeaways writing workshops in France, Italy, and New Mexico. She has taught in the Masters of Education programs at Lesley University, served as the 2017 North Carolina Piedmont Laureate, and been an associate editor for Teaching Artist Journal. Since 1990, she has engaged over 25,000 students and teachers with her warm and intuitive teaching style.
Mimi holds a BA from the University of North Carolina and an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson. She is the author of The Kudzu Queen, A Field Guide to Human Emotions, Logophilia and The Art of Learning. Her writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic, Main Street Rag, Prime Number Magazine and other journals. Mimi has performed her fiction and poetry at many venues including Why There Are Words in Sausalito, Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh and Symphony Space in New York City.
About Nan Cuba: Nan Cuba is the author of Body and Bread (Engine Books, 2013), winner of the PEN/Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction; it was also listed as one of “Ten Titles to Pick Up Now” in O, Oprah’s Magazine, was a “Summer Books” choice from Huffington Post, and the San Antonio Express-News called it one of the “Best Books of 2013.”Cuba co-edited Art at our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers and Artists (Trinity University Press, 2008), and published other work in such places as Antioch Review, Harvard Review, Columbia, and Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row. Her story, “Watching Alice Watch,” was one of the Million Writers Award Notable Stories (storySouth), and “When Horses Fly” won the George Nixon Creative Writing Award for Best Prose from the Conference of College Teachers of English.As an investigative journalist, she reported on the causes of extraordinary violence in LIFE, Third Coast, and D Magazine, and was featured in the Netflix docuseries, The Confession Killer. Cuba has received a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, an artist residency at Fundación Valparaiso in Spain, and a San Antonio Artist Foundation grant.She was included in Texas Monthly’s “Ten to Watch (and Read),” received the Mind Science Foundation Imagineer Award, and was a finalist for the Humanities Texas Award for Individual Achievement. Cuba is the founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center, and for fifteen years, she was associate professor then writer-in-residence at Our Lady of the Lake University.
“Funny, sad, and tender… Mimi Herman has written a novel that possesses a true and hard won understanding of the South.” —David Sedaris, author of Happy-Go-Lucky