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Dori Sanders

(b. 1934)


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(b. 1934), novelist.

Dori Sanders, the popular storyteller and lifelong peach farmer in Filbert, South Carolina, made her literary debut with Clover (1990), a novel about a ten-year-old black farm girl whose widowed father dies only hours after marrying a white woman. Clover Hill and her stepmother, Sara Kate, build a life together in rural South Carolina while coming to terms with their grief, with Clover's extended family, and with their cultural differences. The child's perceptive and humorous first-person narrative depicts their experiences as they learn to live with and love each other.

Her Own Place (1993), Sanders's second novel, traces fifty years in the life of Mae Lee Barnes, a World War II bride who raises five children and runs her own farm in South Carolina after her husband abandons the family. She finds inner strength and meaning through her love of family, community, and the land. After her children are grown, she moves from the farm into town, where she becomes the first black volunteer at the local hospital. Her relationship with her white, upper-class colleagues is awkward, humorous, inspiring, and ultimately successful.

In 1995, Sanders published Dori Sanders' Country Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Family Farm Stand. Throughout this autobiographical work, Sanders's spirited storytelling associates recipes with tales of farm traditions and memories of her family.

The tradition of African American women's writing has been enriched by Dori Sanders's particular insights into the southern rural African American community and its worldview. Her convincing folk vernacular, imaginative metaphor, humor, and keen observations of small details create drama and force in her commentary on the richness of family and community. Refusing to recognize limits to the possibilities of human relationships, Sanders develops in her novels a theme that is uncustomary in contemporary African American fiction: the celebration of everyday people, black and white, who live in the rural South and depend upon each other for personal and economic preservation during the years since the 1940s.

–Marsha C. Vick

Subjects: Literature.


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