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Book Title

Mattaponi Queen

Author 1
Belle Boggs
By now, [the shad] would have been baking for hours, the bones soft and gelatinous in the tough salty flesh. Ronnie could almost taste it, intense and rare, not like food at all. It was like love, she thought. Something you thought you should have until it was right there in front of you and you realized you were committed to it whole.

Set on the Mattaponi Indian Reservation and its surrounding counties, the stories in this linked collection detail the lives of rural men and women with stark realism and plainspoken humor. A young military couple faces a future shadowed by injury and untold secrets. A dying alcoholic attempts to reconcile with his estranged children. And an elderly woman's nurse weathers life with her irascible charge by making payments on a decrepit houseboat--the Mattaponi Queen. The land is parceled into lots, work opportunities are few, and the remaining inhabitants must choose between desire and necessity as they navigate the murky stream of possession, love, and everything in between.

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Winner of the 2009 Bakeless Fiction Prize, a confident debut collection about life on and around the Mattaponi Indian Reservation

About the Author

Belle  Boggs
Credit: Barbara Tyroler
Belle Boggs is the author of The Art of Waiting and Mattaponi Queen. Her stories and essays have appeared in Orion, Harper’s, the Paris Review, Ecotone, Slate, and many other publications. She teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.
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  • “[An] impressive debut collection. . . . these linked stories reach toward hope when they aren’t heading for heartbreak.”—ELLE Magazine
  • “Belle Boggs has created funny, but understated, characters and her sharp, clear voice seems suited to stories relatives swap on slightly rickety wooden lawn furniture. . . . A bewitching debut.”—Chicago Tribune
  • “Boggs knows her landscape—how the mildew smells, what the frost looks like on a badly tended garden, how trees around an old house look different from one decade to the next. Reading these stories is satisfying, like going to a concert in which the musicians, you can just tell, have given everything for the moment: your unforgettable evening.”—Los Angeles Times
  • “Though the stories contained in Mattaponi Queen comprise Boggs’ debut, they give the impression of a writer who has been lingering in our midst for many years. . . . The language of Mattaponi Queen is simple, but precise and skilled, as Boggs has a knack for capturing both the comedy and absurdity in all levels of human relationships. . . . Boggs is a new voice with a strong and profound value.”—The Millions


This book is made possible, in part, through the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize, awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College in support of emerging writers, and by the generosity of Graywolf Press donors like you.
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