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The Benefits of Eating White Folks by Leslie Taylor Grover

by Leslie T. Grover

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The Sickness, a disease with unknown origins, is killing white children in the antebellum South, but Perpetua, an enslaved Black woman, is facing something much more devastating: Her daughter, Meenie, is missing. What she finds in her search for her child will change her life forever.

By fusing the past and the present through the power of prose and poetry, Leslie T. Grover poignantly explores the ripple effect of history and the nature of love and family and the ties that bind.


“Leslie T. Grover combines an enslaved woman’s fierce and tender narrative with her own spare poetry to paint a portrait of how white women have betrayed our Black sisters since slavery. The Benefits of Eating White Folks illuminates how the patriarchy wants us to eat each other alive, and urges us to grasp above, below, around and through it for love, humanity, and dignity. A Southern Gothic for the 21st century.” —Liz Prato, author of Kids in America: Essays on Gen X, forthcoming June 2022

When her daughter goes missing in the antebellum South, Perpetua, an enslaved Black woman refuses to give up hope that she will find her, despite being stonewalled, and even punished, by those who can help find her.

In sharp, magnetic prose and poetry, Leslie T. Grover explores what it means to be a mother and what it means to be human in a world that will treat you as less.

Critical Acclaim:

Praise for The Benefits of Eating White Folks

“Leslie T. Grover’s novella The Benefits of Eating White Folks is a kind of DNA strand, weaving multiple genres and a sense of the past as it is intertwined with the present. Grover is a bold, unflinching writer, and her chilling book will help us all face ourselves and reckon with our long, dark history.” —Nellie Hermann, author of The Season of Migration

“The Benefits of Eating White Folks is a viscerally rich work that intensifies with the turn of each page. Leslie T. Grover deftly blends poetry, art, and prose to illustrate the full scope of horrors and hard truths faced by Black communities from slavery to the present day. This book hits and never misses–an instant classic that’s so engrossing, it’s impossible to put down.” —Lyndsey Ellis, author of Bone Broth

“An exquisite dance of prose, poetry, and visual art, this book manages to distill the bitter realities of being enslaved into potent medicine. Through brilliant prose and verse, Grover paints a vivid picture of Black women’s indomitable resilience in the face of unimaginable injustice.” —Ari Honarvar, author of A Girl Called Rumi