About Valerie Nieman
BLOOD CLAY is Valerie Nieman’s third novel. She is also the author of a collection of short stories, Fidelities, from West Virginia University Press, and a poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake. She has received an NEA creative writing fellowship, two Elizabeth Simpson Smith prizes in fiction, and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry.
A native of WesternNew York State, she graduated from West Virginia Universityand the M.F.A. program at Queens University of Charlotte. She teaches writing at N.C. A&T State Universityand is the poetry editor for Prime Number Magazine.
“BLOOD CLAY is a victorious book in many different ways. I was entertained and remain mightily impressed!” — Fred Chappell, author of Look Back All the Green Valley and a host of novels, stories, books of poetry, former NC poet laureate.
A story that readers say they “can’t put down,” a crime drama that reflects on home and community, and a lyrical look into the changing face of the New South—BLOOD CLAY is all three.
Valerie Nieman’s latest novel, called by Jane Alison “both a tense, plot-driven story about complicated issues of race and guilt, and a meditation on solitude, history, and ways of living,” centers on Tracey Gaines, who has moved to rural Saul County, NC, to escape the wreckage of a divorce. Tracey devotes herself to teaching at an alternative school and renovating a farmhouse, but finds she can’t as easily build connections in this new place. When she witnesses a tragedy, her insistence on truth-telling splits the community—but she finds an ally in a native son who left for new opportunities, only to face his own trauma and a forced return home.
Praise for Valerie Nieman’s BLOOD CLAY
“I started BLOOD CLAY one day, finished it the next. VERY difficult to put down. What a great book!”— David Halperin, author of Journal of a UFO Investigator.
“I finished BLOOD CLAY today and it is the best novel I have read in a long time. This is a terrific book, told well, amazing descriptive passages dropping in out of almost nowhere into the middle of a moment, sensitivity to everything and everyone, understanding of that Southern ethos that exists outside the cities . . . my gosh. I’ve told my daughter she just has to see that this is on her book club’s agenda for the next round of books they read.” —Jean Rodenbough
“I read this book with the curiosity that I assume a cultural anthropologist would feel and a perspective a poet would enjoy. This is a book that needs to be savored. Leisurely.” – Vijya Campagne, Member ofWinston-SalemWriters
“Devoured BLOOD CLAY in a day. It is beautifully written, honest and moving.” — Avra Wing, author of Angie, I Says.
“Val Nieman has written what is destined to become a classic novel of Southern life. I love this book.” — Elizabeth Stuckey-French, author of The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady
“The precipitating event of Valerie Nieman’s BLOOD CLAY…is in itself a small masterpiece of dramatic storytelling. What unfolds from there is a compelling, wise and nuanced exploration both of life in today’s changing South and the struggles of ordinary people to live with hope and a sense of belonging, despite their fears and failings. This is a true-to-life, sensitive and gripping piece of fiction.” — John Cochran