Blood Clay

Blood Clay is a victorious book in many different ways. I was entertained and remain mightily impressed!”
–Fred Chappell, Look Back All the Green Valley, former NC poet laureate

Blood Clay is a profoundly moving and beautifully written novel about a community torn apart by tragedy. Valerie Nieman is a writer of remarkable talent, and she has given us a book that, once read, will be hard for any reader to forget.”
—Ron Rash, Serena

Blood Clay is both a tense, plot-driven story about complicated issues of race and guilt, and a meditation on solitude, history, and ways of living. The writing is wonderfully fluid, visual, and vivid, but above all these felicities of style, I’m most impressed by Nieman’s candid treatment of difficult subject matter and the broadness of her canvas. It is thoughtful, brave, intelligent.”
—Jane Alison, The Love-Artist

“How and why people belong in a place, how others fail to fit in and how a few, who used to be bound to the community by blood and by the blood-red clay where tobacco has been lovingly hand-cultivated for generations, suddenly find themselves on the outside—this is the focus of Nieman's nuanced exploration of the contemporary South.”
—Michael M. Harris, The Chieu Hoi Saloon

“Nieman, whose lyrical writing edges on poetry, tells this story with insight and compassion. She doesn’t idealize the South: troubled race relations, provincialism, and phony politeness all play a part. But the novel also captures what makes the town humane, large-minded, and forgiving. The message is optimistic: Although life inevitably causes pain, we can still find a home.”
Our State magazine

Blood Clay is the deeply moving, elegantly constructed story of what happens when extraordinary violence happens to ordinary people; however, the story is about much more than violence….A community college teacher of more than 30 years, I found Nieman's handling of the school scenes one of the novel's greatest strengths. The author nails just what it is like to face wounded students full of rage, with painfully low self-esteem who can pick apart a teacher without sufficient armor. Nieman can be completely trusted to surprise and satisfy the high emotional stakes she raises without resorting to cheap tricks or gratuitous violence. She keeps things real.”
–Ed Davis in The Charleston Gazette-Mail