Two events tie together the nine stories in Monic Ductan's gorgeous debut: the 1920s lynching of Ida Pearl Crawley and the 1980s drowning of a high school basketball player, Lucy Boudreaux. Both forever shape the people and the place of Muscadine, Georgia, in the foothills of Appalachia.
The daughters of Muscadine are Black southern women who are, at times, outcasts due to their race and are also estranged from those they love. A remorseful woman tries to connect with the child she gave up for adoption; another, immersed in loneliness, attempts to connect with a violent felon. Two sisters love each other deeply even when they cannot understand one another. A little girl witnessing her father's slow death realizes her own power and lack thereof. A single woman weathers the excitement—and rigors—of online dating.
Covering the last one hundred years, these are stories of people whose voices have been suppressed and erased for too long: Black women, rural women, Appalachian women, and working-class women. Ductan presents the extraordinary nature of everyday lives in the tradition of Alice Walker, Deesha Philyaw, James McBride, and Dorothy Allison in an engaging, engrossing, and exciting new voice.
1. Black Water 2. Gris-Gris 3. Kasha and Ansley 4. You Can Have It 5. June's Menorah 6. The Sense of Touch 7. Daughter 8. Gullah Babies 9. White Jesus
Monic Ductan teaches literature and creative writing at Tennessee Tech University. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, including Oxford American,Good River Review, Southeast Review, Shenandoah, Appalachian Heritage, and South Carolina Review. Her essay "Fantasy Worlds" was listed as notable in TheBest American Essays 2019.
Monic Ductan's debut collection offers storytelling that's rare these days, forgoing lurid, livid drama for tales about quieter yet deeply meaningful lives. The key characters we meet across several generations all have connections to the same small, north Georgia hometown, bound by blood or circumstance. Yet each of their stories is uniquely satisfying. This unforgettable collection is among the most authentic, heartfelt fiction I've read in a long time, stories akin to Alice Walker's "Everyday Use."
~Martin Lammon, Fuller E. Callaway endowed Flannery O'Connor Chair in Creative Writing at Georgia College (1997-2018), author of News from Where I Live and The Long Road Home
Monic Ductan doesn't just describe her fascinating characters; she inhabits them. Each story, each daughter of Muscadine, is written beautifully from the inside out. Ductan is like a portrait painter, an expert with fine, subtle brushstrokes, and her stories feel both deeply familiar and profoundly surprising. This wonderful collection offers an intricate composite picture of life in the diverse rural South—a tender, yearning, and refreshingly honest book.
~Leah Hampton, author of F*ckface
Monic Ductan's stories are emotionally gripping. I had to put down the book after each story and let it settle inside me before continuing to the next gem in the collection. Ductan is the writer I will certainly be keeping an eye on.
~Sarah Anne Johnson, author of The Lightkeeper's Wife and The Last Sailor
Daughters of Muscadine is a lovely debut from a talented writer with an unwavering eye and ear for small town Black life. The smart and observant girls and women in this linked collection are magnificently portrayed by a writer with a sure hand for the nuances of place, race, and belonging. These stories are tender and precisely imagined, a great promise of what is to come from Monic Ductan.
~Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky poet laureate and author of The Birds of Opulence
A place never explains itself: its histories and rhythms are in its people, the land, in the stories and the spaces in between. The linked stories in Daughters of Muscadine vibrate with the longings of daughters and sons, sisters and lovers, parents and legends, and those whose escapes confound. In assured and graceful prose, Monic Ductan weaves a tapestry of human nature over time—with a seer's insight into the human heart.
~Anne Sanow, author of Triple Time
From the multiple tragedies in the legend of Ida Pearl Crawley in the opening story, to the vandalizing of "hillbilly-haired" white Jesus, in the last, Ductan's cinematically rendered and believable characters in Daughters of Muscadine dare you to look away as they navigate coming-of-age with plenty of expected and unexpected obstacles. These stories are mostly drawn from the same well and work together to offer a satisfying interrogation of all things sacred in small towns across the mountain south, especially attitudes surrounding race and class.
~Frank X Walker, author of A Is for Affrilachia
Monic Ductan's relationship-focused short story collection traces a small town's triumphs and tragedies. Melancholy arises throughout the book—as though the hallmark of being from Muscadine is that everyone is a little sad and a little frustrated. Beyond this melancholy, though, lies an air of protectiveness and acceptance. Muscadine is both a place to run from and a place to run toward. In the tender and enthusiastic stories of Daughters of Muscadine, people's connections in their small town run deep.
Recurring characters and themes in Monic Ductan's debut story collection, Daughters of Muscadine, recall the vines of their fictional setting's namesake. These linked stories reveal the entangled historical and psychological legacies at work in several generations of Black families in Muscadine, a rural town in northeast Georgia. The links among these touching stories are subtle but effective, accumulating in our minds as we read. Thanks to Ductan's detailed command of her setting and the compassionate clarity she brings to her narrators, we easily grow attached to a wide range of Muscadine's Black daughters and sons.
With individual stories that collectively covering the last one hundred years of history Daughters of Muscadine: Stories is an impressive compendium of well crafted and rivetingly personal stories of women whose voices have been suppressed and erased for too long, including Black women, rural women, Appalachian women, and working-class women. As a novelist, Monic Ductan has a genuine and enviable flair for portraying the extraordinary and the revealing in the everyday lives of ordinary women.
~Midwest Book Review
Recurring characters and themes in Monic Ductan's debut story collection Daughters of Muscadine recall the vines of their fictional setting's namesake. These linked stories reveal the entangled historical and psychological legacies at work in several generations of Black families in Muscadine, a rural town in northeast Georgia.... The links among these touching stories are subtle but effective, accumulating in our minds as we read. Thanks to Ductan's detailed command of her setting and the compassionate clarity she brings to her narrators, we easily grow attached to a wide range of Muscadine's Black daughters and sons.