LANGSTON & Elliott Bay Book Company Present:
Take My Hand: Dolen Perkins-ValdezMonday, April 25, 2022 | 6 pm PST
In-person, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
Dolen’s third and newest novel, TAKE MY HAND (Berkley Hardcover; April 12, 2022) reckons with the forced sterilization of Black women, inspired by true events in the 1970s American South, for readers of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray.
Dolen was inspired to write TAKE MY HAND by a 1973 lawsuit on behalf of Minnie Lee and Alice Relf. The Relf sisters were only twelve and fourteen years old when they were surgically sterilized without their knowledge in a federally-funded Montgomery clinic. At age 29, Joseph Levin—co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center–filed a lawsuit on the sisters’ behalf, shining a spotlight on the 150,000 similar impoverished victims across the county.
As Dolen dove further in the Relf sisters’ story, she discovered that many of the nurses participating in these procedures were Black women themselves. Dolen fictionalizes this momentous historical event and creates the character of Civil Townsend, a Black nurse at a Montgomery family clinic. The daughter of a local doctor, Civil intends to help Black women in her community make informed decisions about their bodies. But her first patients, the young Williams sisters, soon become victims of an irreparable wrong. Civil takes it upon herself to make things right and bring justice to the girls.
About the Author
Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the New York Times bestselling author of Wench and Balm. She was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction, and she was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She lives in Washington, DC with her family.