Catfish by Madelyn Bennett Edwards
It's the 1960s and early 70s in small-town south Louisiana. Susanna Burton, a white girl whose traumatic home life is hidden behind her father’s political power, finds acceptance and forbidden love with an African American family and a young black man named Rodney Thibault. Rodney provides the tenderness and warmth Susie has never known in an era when anti-miscegenation is the law of the land. Even after the Supreme Court strikes down such discrimination, the Ku Klux Klan, other white supremacists, and Susie’s parents stand in the way of love. Forced to go their separate ways and live several states apart for years on end, Susie and Rodney continually find their way back together.
At the heart of the novel, giving Susie and Rodney the strength to overcome the harshness of their world, and telling Susie stories of his family’s escape from slavery and oppression, is Catfish, patriarch of the black family that accepts Susie more fully than her own blood.
Race in America is growing more divisive even as mixed-race couples break barriers and bring more colorless children into the world. Why this divide exists is a thorn for Madelyn Edwards who was raised by a woman of color whom she still loves beyond measure.
In her debut novel, Catfish, Madelyn subtly explores the chasm between black and white families that existed in the Deep South in the 1960s and ‘70s when Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan defied federal laws.
If readers find themselves rooting for Rodney and Susie at the end of the book, Madelyn feels she has accomplished her task of blending color lines and making prejudice a forgotten emotion with Catfish.
Madelyn Bennett Edwards, or “Maddy,” as her friends call her, is a big believer in education, because she fought so hard to get one. She went to beauty school and put herself through college cutting hair, and graduated from Louisiana College wth a BA in Journalism at thirty-eight-years-old, a single mom with two children. She recently earned an MA in Writing at sixty-plus years old from Lenoir Rhyne University.
Maddy is a former television news reporter and producer who started her own company producing television vignettes for hospitals across the country. A Louisiana native, she started MBC in Alexandria, LA, moved it to Nashville, Tennessee in 1994, and sold it in 2003. She presently lives in Asheville with her architect husband, Gene. They have a dozen grandchildren in three states and spend their free time traveling, camping in their RV, and gardening.
Maddy writes about race in American in a way that attempts to bridge the divide.