Miss Chloe

A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison

by A. J. Verdelle

On Sale: 05/10/2022

Miss Chloe

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Miss Chloe

A Memoir of a Literary Friendship with Toni Morrison

by A. J. Verdelle

On Sale: 05/10/2022


About the Book

The award-winning author of The Good Negress shares invaluable insights on the precarious journey toward creativity that is the writer's life, and tells the compelling story of her relationship with Toni Morrison, painting an illuminating portrait of this towering yet enigmatic cultural icon.

With the publication of her debut novel The Good Negress in 1995, A. J. Verdelle became an overnight sensation, winning critical acclaim and competing for prestigious literature prizes. But for Verdelle, the most unexpected consequence was the friendship she formed with the legendary Toni Morrison. Receiving an advance copy of the book, the Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning author—notorious for never giving early praise—called The Good Negress, “Truly Extraordinary." It was a writer's dream come true—a dream that for Verdelle would become simultaneously exhilarating and challenging.

Now, twenty-five years later, Verdelle tells the story of that success and what came after. Miss Chloe begins with the story of young Verdelle's persistent aim to become an author, spending countless pre-dawn hours writing the novel that became The Good Negress. Verdelle then turns to the heady period after publication, focusing on her relationship with Toni—a precious gift that was most of the time a grace and a blessing, and at other times, confusing and too separate from literature. While Morrison continued to rise as an icon, Verdelle's writing career took a sharp turn. Verdelle's next novel—a Western featuring Black characters—is quickly bought by a young editor who leaves for another job before the manuscript is finished. Searching for direction, Verdelle moves to another publisher. Yet this second book will languish for more than fifteen years. In chronicling her journey, Verdelle offers an honest assessment of what it means to be a writer, including the expectations and let downs that famous friendships do not defray.

Miss Chloe ends with the period after Morrison has passed away, when Verdelle is left to face the reality of her writing career, pondering what it means to have promise that is yet to materialize. She finds comfort in advice Morrison offered over the years, insight she shares in this wise book. “In order for Morrison to take you seriously, to have patience with you, to be interested, you had to be able to hear her," Verdelle writes. “You had to be able to sit still and listen. You had to be able to pipe up in the pauses, and prove you understood. You needed demonstrate that language was a skill you had, that Black culture was known to you and respected by you."

Critical Praise

"Passionate, personal, insightful, testy, and unique." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Verdelle has created a remarkable literary portrait and memoir.” — Booklist

“In Miss Chloe, Verdelle offers us testimony in praise and consideration of life as a literary citizen and Black woman alongside the guiding light of Toni Morrison. This is a holy testimony, indeed, one that deserves to be amen'd forever."
Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Miss Chloe is a rich and wise meditation on the literary paragon that is Toni Morrison. In prose  that is at once lyrical and precise, A.J. Verdelle has delivered an enthralling book on the bounty of long friendship, the dynamism of black culture, the genesis of black genius, the myriad wonders of black women, and the power of literature to shape exceptional lives. Miss Chloe meets the measure of its incomparable central figure, a feat if ever there was one.” — Mitchell S. Jackson, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Miss Chloe is a joyous, eloquent memoir of a lively, emotionally rich, and intensely bookish friendship. In honoring Toni Morrison, A.J. Verdelle has given us a personal celebration of family, women, education, libraries, and, always, the power of words. Verdelle generously includes us in her lavish love of all things literary. This is a glorious book.” — Cathleen Schine, author of The Grammarians

Miss Chloe is an achievement. In a work as intimate as it is ambitious, A.J. Verdelle frankly and lovingly illuminates Toni Morrison’s vast influence as a writer and editor on Black life, culture, and Verdelle herself, all the while weaving together reflections on the complexities of human friendship, the necessity of literature and reading, the demands of the writing life, the meaning of family and community, and the obligation to persevere. A beautiful, essential book.”
Jane Brox, author of Silence and Brilliant  

“A.J. Verdelle, one of our very best writers, has given us a memoir that includes a glimpse of her own literary genius, the women who raised her, the ultimate power of a literary life and her special relationship with our grand queen of Black literature, Toni Morrison. Written with grace and heart, you won’t be able to put this book down and then you’ll place it on the shelf with your sacred favorites.” 
Crystal Wilkinson, author of Perfect Black and The Birds of Opulence

“A.J. Verdelle was gifted a rare opportunity to witness literary genius. Reading Miss Chloe is tantamount to taking a masterclass from two incredible writers.” — Byllye Y Avery, Founder, Black Women’s Health Imperative

“It's hard to put into words how much I love Miss Chloe. Part memoir, part homage, part literary reflection, this rare glimpse into a remarkable sisterhood between A.J. Verdelle and Toni Morrison will take its place among the classics. I will treasure this book forever." 
Dolen Perkins-Valdez, NYT bestselling author of Wench and Take My Hand

“The admiration and love Verdelle shows for her friend, who left us in 2019, is unquestionable, and Miss Chloe is an intimate and powerful tribute that Toni Morrison deserves.” — Los Angeles Review of Books


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063031661
  • ISBN 10: 0063031663
  • Imprint: Amistad
  • On Sale: 05/10/2022
  • Pages: 368
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Cultural Heritage

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