A mother-daughter story of reinvention about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana
Why exactly Charley Bordelon's late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah, say good-bye to Los Angeles.
They arrive just in time for growing season but no amount of planning can prepare Charley for a Louisiana that's mired in the past: as her judgmental but big-hearted grandmother tells her, cane farming is always going to be a white man's business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley must balance the overwhelming challenges of her farm with the demands of a homesick daughter, a bitter and troubled brother, and the startling desires of her own heart.
Penguin has a rich tradition of publishing strong Southern debut fiction from Sue Monk Kidd to Kathryn Stockett to Beth Hoffman. In "Queen Sugar," we now have a debut from the African American point of view. Stirring in its storytelling of one woman against the odds and initimate in its exploration of the complexities of contemporary southern life, "Queen Sugar" is an unforgettable tale of endurance and hope.
About the Author
Natalie Baszile has an MA in Afro American Studies from UCLA and earned an MFA at the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. She lives in San Francisco with her family.
“In Queen Sugar, two bulwarks of American literature—Southern fiction and the transformational journey—are given a fresh take by talented first time novelist Natalie Baszile . . . [the novel] is a sensory experience, a tableau vivant that Baszile skillfully paints in a palette simultaneously subtle and bold. Queen Sugar is a bright and enticing reminder that, sometimes, you can go home.”
"In her heartfelt and beautiful debut novel, Natalie Baszile tells a tale of the South that is as deeply rooted in time and place as it is universal. How do we make sense of family? Loss? The legacies passed down to us? These are the questions that Charley, a young widowed mother, grapples with, as she tries to save the sugarcane plantation that is her inheritance and which, unbeknownst to her, holds the answers to both her past and her future."
—Ruth Ozeki, author of A Tale for the Time Being
"Natalie Baszile debuts with an irresistible tale of family, community, personal obligation, and personal reinvention. The world is full of things that keep you down and things that lift you up—Queen Sugar is about both and in approximately equal measure. Smart and heart-felt and highly recommended."
—Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
"Queen Sugar is a gorgeous, moving story about what grounds us as brothers and sisters, as mothers and daughters, and all the ways we fight to save each other. Natalie Baszile’s characters put brave roots into inhospitable ground, looking for a place, a person, a community to call home. I alternately laughed and wept as they failed each other, forgave each other, lost each other, found themselves. It’s a wise, strong book, and I loved it. You will, too."
—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Someone Else's Love Story
"After turning the last page of Queen Sugar, I already miss the gutsy, contemporary African American woman who ditches California and migrates to Louisiana to run her inherited cane farm. Natalie Baszile is a fresh, new voice that resists all Southern stereotypes, and delivers an authentic knock-out read."
—Lalita Tademy, New York Times bestselling author of Cane River and Red River
“Raw with hardship and tender with hope, Queen Sugar digs deep to the core of a courageous young widow’s life as she struggles to keep her farm in Louisiana’s sugarcane country. Natalie Baszile writes with a bold and steady hand.”
—Beth Hoffman, New York Times bestselling author of Looking for Me and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
"Queen Sugar is a page-turning, heart-breaking novel of the new south, where the past is never truly past, but the future is a hot, bright promise. This is a story of family and the healing power of our connections—to each other, and to the rich land beneath our feet."
—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow
“Natalie Baszile’s Queen Sugar is a sweeping, beautifully wrought, and uniquely American story that brings to vibrant life the little known world of Louisiana’s sugarcane country. I fell in love with Charley Bordelon—her huge heart, her kindness, her courage, and her resilience. A lyrical and page-turning meditation on second chances, reinvention, family, and race, Queen Sugar casts quite a spell.”
—Melanie Gideon, author of The Slippery Year and Wife 22
"Queen Sugar is an accomplished, confident narrative that announces the arrival of a writer to watch."
—Krys Lee, author of Drifting House
“Gorgeous . . . an exquisitely written book about the joys and sorrows of family, love, endurance, and hard work.”
—Peter Orner, author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge