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“I grew up in a family that was always on the brink of success and always on the brink of disaster,” laughs former Washingtonian A.J. Verdelle, author of The Good Negress (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill). But the stability she found as a member of the D.C. Youth Orchestra program, in which she participated as a high-school student, tilted her toward the “success” side; she ultimately departed D.C. to attend the University of Chicago, and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she supports her writing career through her statistics analysis practice. “I know that I don’t have to starve—I’ve been able to take more risks because I was earning a solid living,” says the author. Her debut novel does take chances with its unorthodox language; narrator Denise “Neesey” Palms, a girl raised by her grandmother in rural Virginia and then brought to her mother’s home in Detroit, has difficulty communicating with Northerners after spending so much time in the South.Verdelle intended the novel both to show “the differences in how we raise boys and girls,” and to contrast African-American vernaculars. Initially, she began writing the novel from the mother’s point of view, but ultimately decided that she could better communicate from a child’s perspective; she drew on her memories of childhood summers spent in Detroit, and on her extended family’s accounts of the Great Migration. Verdelle reads from The Good Negress at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, at Politics & Prose, and at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at Vertigo Books.