JCU to Welcome Dolen Perkins-Valdez as Summer 2018 Writer in Residence

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez

John Cabot University is pleased to announce that celebrated novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez will be the 2018 Writer in Residence at the 9th Annual Summer Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation, which will be held from May 21 through June 22.

Perkins-Valdez is the author of two critically acclaimed historical novels: the New York Times Bestselling Wench and Balm. USA Today called Wench “deeply moving” and “beautifully written.” People called it “a devastatingly beautiful account of a cruel past.” O, The Oprah Magazine chose it as a Top Ten Pick of the Month, and NPR named it a top 5 book club pick of 2010. She was a finalist for the Hurston Wright Literary Award, two NAACP Image Awards, and an American Library Association Award for debut fiction.

Dolen’s fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth, and elsewhere. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. She was also awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.

A graduate of Harvard College and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Perkins-Valdez was inspired to write historical fiction while a graduate student in the Ph.D. program at George Washington University where she studied nineteenth-century African American literature. In 2013, Dolen wrote the introduction to a special edition of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, published by Simon & Schuster, which immediately became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckly’s Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, published in 2016.

Dolen serves on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Over the last several years, she has been a frequent participant in their Writers in Schools program. Currently an Assistant Professor in the literature department at American University in Washington, DC, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing.

During her time at JCU she will give a craft talk on writing fiction, conduct a masterclass for JCU creative writing students, and do a reading of her work. “I am thrilled to join the writing community at John Cabot University in Summer 2018,” says Perkins-Valdez. “As I look at the list of previous Writers in Residence, I am honored and humbled to be chosen to continue this esteemed tradition. I look forward to sharing my lifelong passion for literature and the craft of writing.”

“I am very excited that Dolen Perkins-Valdez will be joining us as our Writer in Residence during summer 2017,” says Carlos Dews, Professor of English and Director of the Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation. “Her novels Wench and Balm have already secured her place as a very important contemporary American novelist.  Our students, both graduate and undergraduate, will benefit greatly from having her with us during the Summer 2018 JCU Institute for Creative Writing and Literary Translation.”