Mattaponi Queen

My first book of short stories, Mattaponi Queen, was published by Graywolf Press. Mattaponi Queen was selected by Percival Everett for the Katharine Bakeless Nason Publication Prize for Fiction. You can read more about the contest here and here.

Below are some of the nice things people have said about MQ.

*    *    *

“Strongly imagined, finely controlled and well-crafted. These stories are good because they are true, true in that way that only good fiction can be.”—Percival Everett, Bakeless Fiction Judge

“Belle Boggs infuses these stories of sometimes hardscrabble, dreams-deferred lives with a finely crafted, absolutely confident elegance. Boggs is a writer who knows how deep and how hard we can love and live. Her characters are too real to ever forget.”—Marita Golden, author of After


“Belle Boggs is an immensely gifted writer, and this is a remarkable debut collection-each nuance of emotion, of insight, of dialogue and character, is pitch-perfect and surprisingly resonant.”—Mary Yukari Waters, author of The Favorites


“The Mattaponi River is the confluence of three rivers and is also the stunning metaphor for a place where three races have lived inextricable histories for generations. Indeed, the stories in Mattaponi Queen gather like converging waters until the narrative world is coursing and undeniable. A few lives leak away from the Mattaponi, others never leave its banks, but character and place are one in this world so unapologetically evoked by Belle Boggs’ beautiful, direct prose, and tension is not so much a few events as it is a constancy that is occasionally emerged from, the water moccasin head above the water . . . and then not . . .”—Michelle Latiolais, author of Even Now and A Proper Knowledge

Mattaponi Queen was one of the best things I’ve read all year. I looked forward each night to a new story, and by the end, felt as if I’d been sitting in a car or on a porch with a cousin or neighbor, listening to how things went wrong, or how they could have gone right, or how they might still look up. The setting was so perfectly rendered that I saw the river, the dirt roads, the woods, and most of all, the way each character moved in that landscape. The interwoven stories remind me of Annie Proulx crossed with Ernest Gaines—the dry humor, the understatement, and the wonderful dialogue that sounds as if I’m hearing it while sitting on a folding chair in a yard.”—Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales


28 responses to “Mattaponi Queen

  1. Strange question.

    Did you attend Virginia’s Governor’s School?

    Also, congratulations on winning the Bakeless prize. That’s awesome.

    • Belle Boggs

      Hi. Yes I did–in 1993 I guess? You too? I see from your website that you’re a poet, with books too, which is great. Were we in class together?

      Thank you for posting on my site, and sorry not to reply sooner–I am new to having a blog.

      • I’m not sure if we were in class together; mostly, I just recognized your name which I remember even, at the time, thinking was pretty unique. And, well, it still is.

  2. Jennifer Heinz

    Finally, my Google Alert bears fruit! I’ve been watching for news – congratulations on the Bakeless prize 🙂

  3. jason campbell


    im not sure if you saw the last comment i attempted to make. perhaps you did. anyway, i just wanted to congratulate you on your success in your writing and in life in general. i read the story that you published in glimmer train a while back and was impressed. i look forward to reading your book of short stories one it is published.

    jason campbell

  4. Margaret Abend

    I enjoyed Homecoming and look forward to reading Mattaponi Queen. I would love to alert the kids for Heninger of your work, I am certain they would be impressed. You had a very positive influence on them, you helped to make writing a favorite subject, making it fun instead of a chore.

    • Belle Boggs

      Thank you for reading it, Margaret! I think your kids loved writing before they ever met me… but I’d be so curious to know what they’re up to. I hope they go to Irvine!

  5. Marianna Keesee

    Belle, three years ago my husband and I found King William County and built a vacation house on Custis Millpond Creek. As I read, enjoyed, and travelled with you on Rt 30, on the Mattaponi Reservation, and on the creek that holds the spill of the millpond in the title story, I marvelled at you insight into the human condition at such a young age. Congratulations on the publication of these short stories. I would be very interested in any dates you have scheduled for public appearances in the area. I live in Georgia, but my grandchildren live in Virginia and I’m committed to seeing them every two months!

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  7. barbara white ross

    i have not read your book, however i intend to do so.
    i am the daughter of the late Wilbur White of Walkerton Va

    • Belle Boggs

      Barbara, how we miss your father! I hope you like the book, and I hope you will be in touch. Are you near Walkerton?

      • barbara white ross

        I have read the book, congratulations, I truly enjoyed it.
        I am am the youngest of Wilbur’s four daughters, I live in Pennsylvania, I have a sister in California (Helen) and two in Virginia. (Mary and Ellen
        My sister Ellen will be at your apperance in November.
        We all miss our father and mother very much.

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  9. I am absolutely delighted to discover that you have a blog! I received “Mattaponi Queen” in the mail yesterday…a gift from a friend. Imagine my surprise when I flipped through and saw K&Q Courthouse mentioned!! I grew up in Shacklefords, and currently reside in St. Stephens Church. Thanks for putting our little slice of Heaven on the map:) Can’t wait to read your stories!

  10. Belle Boggs

    I hope you enjoy the stories! I’ll be in King and Queen for a talk arranged by Jack Spain in November, and in Richmond next weekend. I’ll post the details soon!

  11. Shannon Tingle (Sidell)


    What a small world. My co-worker just showed me an article about your book. I looked at your picture and thought you looked familiar then I saw your name. We went to grade school together and a few years of high school. Congratulations on your book! I am ordering a copy now and can not wait to read it.

  12. Kim Stevens (Stolfi)

    Belle – wow has it been a long time! It looks like you have traveled down the path I always knew you would 🙂 Congratulations on your book! I was so excited when I heard about it and even more excited when I came across your blog. I can’t wait to read it.

    How is your family? Dad runs into your father from time to time.


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  14. michelle

    I love the stories in your book.

  15. Jessica Brown

    I am looking so forward to reading “Mattaponi Queen”. I grew up in King William on the Mattaponi River. Congratulations on your book.

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  17. adam fleischer

    hi,mrs belle
    we have a middle school that has no art,muisc porgames and i was thikeing that it was a good idea that you might have them do memors or something with the hiwassee dam middelschool. school.And just so you know richerd gram stayed at our house,[for free]
    so you can stay at the flisher’s readince.

    • Belle Boggs

      Thank you so much, Adam! I hope I can return to Hiwassee Dam sometime–I had such a great time and hope you are having a good last quarter of school!

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