VCCA Fellow's Novel a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick

Hillary Jordan's debut novel Mudbound has been selected as a Summer 2008 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, this after winning the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded biannually to a first literary novel that addresses issues of social justice. Mudbound is one of twelve New Voices for 2008 chosen by Waterstone’s U.K. and a Borders Original Voices selection.

Hillary's one month residency in 2003 was a turning point in the novel's evolution. "I will always think of VCCA as the place where Mudbound became unstuck," she says. "I'd been struggling for a couple of years to move the book forward, and during my residency, I was able to finally figure out where it needed to go. I left with 50 new pages, a renewed sense of purpose and some wonderful memories."

In the winter of 1946, Henry McAllen moves his city-bred wife, Laura, from their comfortable home in Memphis to a remote cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta — a place she finds both foreign and frightening. While Henry works the land he loves, Laura struggles to raise their two young children in a rude shack with no indoor plumbing or electricity, under the eye of her hateful, racist father-in-law. When it rains, the waters rise up and swallow the bridge to town, stranding the family in a sea of mud.

As the McAllans are being tested in every way, two celebrated soldiers of World War II return home to the Delta. Jamie McAllan is everything his older brother Henry is not: charming, handsome, and sensitive to Laura’s plight, but also haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, comes home from fighting the Nazis with the shine of a war hero, only to face far more personal — and dangerous — battles against the ingrained bigotry of his own countrymen. It is the unlikely friendship of these two brothers-in-arms, and the passions they arouse in others, that drive this powerful debut novel.

Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She received her BA in English and Political Science from Wellesley College and spent fifteen years as a full-time advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

She is currently on a nation-wide book tour, with stops in New York, Texas, Illinois and throughout the southeast. For dates and locations visit her website.

Library Journal, Starred Review
"[A] poignant and moving debut novel. . . . Jordan faultlessly portrays the values of the 1940s as she builds to a stunning conclusion. Highly recommended."

Barbara Kingsolver
“This is storytelling at the height of its powers: the ache of wrongs not yet made right, the fierce attendance of history made as real as rain, as true as this minute. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm. Her characters walked straight out of 1940's Mississippi and into the part of my brain where sympathy and anger and love reside, leaving my heart racing. They are with me still.”


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