Union Ave Books is proud to present An Author Event with Mimi Herman. This will take place on January 13, 2023 at 6 pm in our store.
While this is a free event, we ask that you reserve your spot at this link.
About the Author:
Mimi Herman 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, Ireland, New Mexico and online. 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.
Herman holds a BA from the University of North Carolina and an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson. She is the author of 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, Prime Number Magazine and other journals. She has performed her poetry and fiction at venues ranging from Why There Are Words in Sausalito to Symphony Space in New York City. For more information visit www.mimiherman.com.
About the Book:
In her pitch perfect debut novel, THE KUDZU QUEEN (Regal House; January 10, 2023), writer and Kennedy Center teaching artist Mimi Herman introduces a heroine as sharp, spunky, and courageous as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mattie Lee Watson’s story and character developed as Herman learned about the kudzu bonanza that permeated the Southern U.S. in the 1930s and 40s. (Kudzu, a wildly invasive plant that grows up to a foot per day, also called ‘the vine that ate the South,’ was once thought to be a vibrant savior in Southern agriculture; it was found to be the opposite, quickly overtaking and destroying native plants.)
In THE KUDZU QUEEN, Herman introduces James T. Cullowee, the self-proclaimed “Kudzu King” who arrives in 15-year-old Mattie’s hometown 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, and even cure headaches. As Cullowee sets out to sell Cooper County on the future of kudzu, organizing a countywide festival capped off by the crowning of the Kudzu Queen, Mattie sets her sights on winning both the crown and Cullowee. But as Mattie, her generous but unassuming family, and her peers quickly learn, Cullowee—like the kudzu he promotes—has a dark and predatory side. And Mattie, an irresistible (and mostly honest) narrator, devises a plan to bring Cullowee down.
As Mattie grapples with racial inequities and class barriers, the unevenness of first love, and a tragedy that befalls her best friend, all under the watchful eyes of the Kudzu King and those training her to be the Kudzu Queen, she is forced to reckon with what’s right and how far to push back against what isn’t.
Rich with unforgettable and deeply-developed characters—Mattie’s erstwhile suitor Carl, her nemesis— the promiscuous Glynis Carpentier, Lynnette’s younger sister Aggie whose silence holds dark secrets, and Mattie’s charitable and strong-willed mother—THE KUDZU QUEEN unravels a tangle of sexuality, power, and race in the American South. As the writer Lee Smith says, “This book demands to be a movie!”
Praise for The Kudzu Queen
“Funny, sad, and tender… Mimi Herman has written a novel that possesses a true and hard won understanding of the South.”
—David Sedaris, New York Times bestselling author of Happy-Go-Lucky
“A handsome devil pays a call to a community in North Carolina, and in this funny and moving novel by Mimi Herman, we see the result. The Kudzu Queen is about beauty, and familial love, and what we may owe to our friends and neighbors. This novel has both sweetness and suspense, and its cast of characters will stay in your memory long after you have closed this wonderful book.”
—Charles Baxter, PEN/Malamud Award winner, National Book Award finalist, and author of The Sun Collective
“What a wonderful novel! Mimi Herman brings us a charming charlatan, a farming community at a major turning point, and the most appealing young heroine since Scout…. This book demands to be a movie!”
—Lee Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Girls
“Mimi Herman’s novel is absorbing, nuanced, and as layered as the characters who inhabit it. In equal measure of grace and seemingly effortless narration, the beautifully drawn compelling characters of The Kudzu Queen are captivating voices reconciling the tensions between belonging, entrapment, grief, self doubt, forgiveness, and redemption.”
–Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Poet Laureate
“The Kudzu Queen, Mimi Herman’s lively novel, chronicles the history of the prolific Southern vine while also introducing the wonderful character, Mattie Watson, and her family and community. People often joke about kudzu climbing and concealing everything, but in Mimi Herman’s capable storytelling, it is just the opposite; she uncovers all that divides humans as well as what binds them together.”
—Jill McCorkle, New York Times bestselling author of Life After Life
“Mimi Herman’s delightful new novel The Kudzu Queen is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking, filled with smart and subtle observations about race, gender, class, and power. And Herman’s spunky 15-year old heroine, Mattie Lee Watson, is irresistible, with a sense of justice as great as her sense of humor.”
–Helen Fremont, award-winning author of The Escape Artist