March 13, 1997

A. J. Verdelle Reads and Discusses Her Works at Mead Chapel

African American novelist A. J. Verdelle will read from and discuss her award-winning novel, The Good Negress, in Mead Chapel at Middlebury College on Monday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m.

The Good Negress, Verdelle's first novel, is a deceptively simple tale of a young woman in the '60s who is sent to live with her "Granma'am" in rural Virginia. After a period of tutelage, she returns to Detroit to help raise her young brothers against a backdrop of urban turbulence. The book has received four national prizes since its publication in April, 1995, honored first by the American Academy of Arts and Letters with the Howard Vursell Award. Later, in May of 1996, the PEN/Faulkner nomination turned into a PEN/Faulkner finalist's award. The book also garnered a Bunting Fellowship at Radcliffe College for the 1996-'97 academic year. On the first day of the Bunting Fellowship, the Whiting Writer's Award was granted. The Good Negress was also a finalist for the 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

The book has received more than 150 reviews in newspapers and periodicals. Mirabella writer Cathleen Schine discussed the novel in the context of Jane Austen films, saying the novel recalled the "purposeful thrill of an Austen-like world." New Orleans Magazine featured Verdelle in its French Quarter issue in 1996. Interview magazine featured Verdelle as one of six new novelists in the September 1995 fiction list, "Great New Stories." The book has been assigned in college courses as well.

Ms. Verdelle is also the owner and founder of the Brooklyn-based consulting company, Applied Statistics & Research. She began her career in statistics and data analysis while earning a master's degree in applied statistics at the University of Chicago. Her undergraduate degree is in political science, also from the University of Chicago.

The public is cordially invited to attend the lecture.