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Ladee Hubbard has been named the second Gulf South Writer in the Woods, to be in residence for a total of six weeks spread out over 2019 and 2020. During the residency, Hubbard will be revising her novel, The Rib King. Spanning a ten-year period between 1917 and 1927, The Rib King shares its name with a fictitious brand of barbecue sauce that August Sitwell, an African-American groundskeeper, creates with the help of a cook, Mamie Clark. The sauce receives national distribution and is sold with a caricature of August on the label. The Rib King draws upon the author’s interest in the popularity of minstrelsy and the devastating impact it had on African-Americans’ efforts to assert their rights as citizens during the first decades of the 20th century. In chronicling the path through which August Sitwell’s distorted image becomes an emblem of quality, reliability, and modern convenience the novel explores the nostalgia for slavery that was so vividly dramatized through the use of African-Americans to sell consumer items, particularly culinary products, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Ladee Hubbard is the author of the novel The Talented Ribkins which received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. She received a BA from Princeton University, a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her short fiction has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Callaloo and Guernica, among other venues. Her film and book reviews appear in The Times Literary Supplement. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and has received additional fellowships and grants from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, MacDowell Colony and Sewanee Writers Conference among others. She lives in New Orleans.
Gulf South Writer in the Woods, a program of A Studio in the Woods and the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South, is designed to support the creative work, scholarship and community engagement of writers examining the Gulf South region. Creative and academic writers working in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and stage/screen writing were considered. Special consideration was given to southern voices, under-represented communities, and perspectives not often heard. Hubbard will receive a stipend of $5,000, a 6-week residency at A Studio in the Woods over 18 months, Tulane University library access, and staff support from the presenting partners. A selection committee of diverse, local writers nominated 30 + local and regional writers, who were then invited to apply. The final selection was made by a jury.
Portrait of Ladee Hubbard by Vilma Samulionyte