The hard-won success of "The Help"

Kathryn Stockett
Kathryn Stockett says she realizes people are uncomfortable with discussing race, but she has heard from readers all over the world who have been touched by her novel, "The Help."
MPR photo/Euan Kerr

Kathryn Stockett's novel "The Help" was the surprise literary success of 2009.

Set in segregationist Mississippi in the 1960s, it's a story about African American maids and their complicated relationships with their white employers.

It's told from the viewpoints of two maids and a young, white woman who secretly write a book about the maids lives.

Some 60 agents rejected Stockett's manuscript, but eventually she found a publisher. "The Help" has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 56 weeks so far.

Stockett is in the Twin Cities for a reading tonight. She told Euan Kerr she drew the three main characters from her own life growing up in Jackson, Mississippi.

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