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First Published: 1959 See reviews | Goodreads.com
"Never before, the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people's lives been seen on the stage," observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959. Indeed Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever. The play's title comes from a line in Langston Hughes's poem "Harlem," which warns that a dream deferred might "dry up/like a raisin in the sun." "The events of every passing year add resonance to A Raisin in the Sun," said The New York Times. "It is as if history is conspiring to make the play a classic." This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.
"Welcome to Bailey's Cafe, the most mythically real eating place you've ever walked into. Presided over by Bailey himself and his helpmate, Nadine, it is a magnet that draws a wide variety of society's detritus, each with her own story to tell." "There is Sadie, whose addiction to alcohol is second only to her mania for cleanliness; and the oddly maternal Eve, whose bordello accepts only fresh flowers as legal tender; Sweet Esther, who takes nothing but white roses for her very particular favors; and Peaches, whose badly mutilated face is in sharp contrast to her goddess's body; Jesse Bell, for whom the love of a woman cannot overcome her lust for heroin; Miss Maple, a transvestite who makes a handsome living by entering soap flake contests; and Mariam, the Ethiopian child who may be the bearer of a miracle." "One would call them misfits all, but in the magical aura of Bailey's Cafe, as the new year approaches, each becomes a universal creature of biblical stature. Magic, too, touches every line of each one's story. For this we have only the consummate skill of Gloria Naylor to thank."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Striking in their emotional immediacy, the stories in Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self are based in a world where inequality is reality but where the insecurities of adolescence and young adulthood, and the tensions within family and the community, are sometimes the biggest complicating forces in one's sense of identity and the choices one makes.
At the center of Toni Morrison's fifth novel, which earned her the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, is an almost unspeakable act of horror and heroism: a woman brutally kills her infant daughter rather than allow her to be enslaved. The woman is Sethe, and the novel traces her journey from slavery to freedom during and immediately following the Civil War. Woven into this circular, mesmerizing narrative are the horrible truths of Sethe's past: the incredible cruelties she endured as a slave, and the hardships she suffered in her journey north to freedom. Just as Sethe finds the past too painful to remember, and the future just "a matter of keeping the past at bay," her story is almost too painful to read. Yet Morrison manages to imbue the wreckage of her characters' lives with compassion, humanity, and humor. Part ghost story, part history lesson, part folk tale, Beloved finds beauty in the unbearable, and lets us all see the enduring promise of hope that lies in anyones future.
Los Angeles, 1948: Easy Rawlins is a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defense plant. Easy is drinking in a friend's bar, wondering how he'll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Money, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs....
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
Here is the classic--and true--story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress, a Southern Civil War heroine to rival Scarlett O'Hara. Vyry bears witness to the South's prewar opulence and its brutality, to its wartime ruin and the subsequent promise of Reconstruction. It is a story that Margaret Walker heard as a child from her grandmother, the real Vyry's daughter. The author spent thirty years researching the novel so that the world might know the intelligent, strong, and brave black woman called Vyry. The phenomenal acclaim this best-selling book has achieved from readers black and white, young and old, attests to her success.
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to America to work as an au pair for a wealthy couple. She begins to notice cracks in their beautiful faade at the same time that the mysteries of own sexuality begin to unravel. Jamaica Kincaid has created a startling new heroine who is destined to win a place of honor in contemporary fiction.
September 2003 marked the 50th anniversary of Maud Martha, the only novel published by esteemed poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Initially entitled "American Family Brown" the work would eventually come to symbolize some of Brooks' most provocative writing. In a novel that captures the essence of Black life, Brooks recognizes the beauty and strength that lies within each of us.
The Classic Freewheeling Look at Race Relations Through the Ages Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed's brilliantly satiric deconstruction of Western civilization, a racy and uproarious commentary on our society. In it, Reed, one of our preeminent African-American authors, mixes portraits of historical figures and fictional characters with sound bites on subjects ranging from ragtime to Greek philosophy. Cited by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the five hundred most significant books in the Western canon, Mumbo Jumbo is a trenchant and often biting look at black-white relations throughout history, from a keen observer of our culture.
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.
A brilliant Jamaican-American writer takes on the themes of colonialism, race, myth, and political awakening through the experiences of a light-skinned woman named Clare Savage. The story is one of discovery as Clare moves through a variety of settings--Jamaica, England, America--and encounters people who affect her search for place and self. The structure of No Telephone to Heaven combines naturalism and lyricism, and traverses space and time, dream and reality, myth and history, reflecting the fragmentation of the protagonist, who nonetheless seeks wholeness and connection. In this deply poetic novel there exist several levels: the world Clare encounters, and a world of which she only gradually becomes aware--a world of extreme poverty, the real Jamaica, not the Jamaica of the middle class, not the Jamaica of the tourist. And Jamaica--almost a character in the book--is described in terms of extraordinary beauty, coexisting with deep human tragedy. The violence that rises out of extreme oppression, the divided loyalties of a colonized person, sexual dividedness, and the dividedness of a person neither white nor black – all of these are truths that Clare must face. Overarching all the themes in this exceptionally fine novel is the need to become whole, and the decisions and the courage demanded to achieve that wholeness.
Born to a white mother and an absent black father, and despised for her dark skin, Helga Crane has long had to fend for herself. As a young woman, Helga teaches at an all-black school in the South, but even here she feels different. Moving to Harlem and eventually to Denmark, she attempts to carve out a comfortable life and place for herself, but ends up back where she started, choosing emotional freedom that quickly translates into a narrow existence. Quicksand, Nella Larsen's powerful first novel, has intriguing autobiographical parallels and at the same time invokes the international dimension of African American culture of the 1920s. It also evocatively portrays the racial and gender restrictions that can mark a life. "Fine, thoughtful and courageous. It is, on the whole, the best piece of fiction that Negro America has produced since the heyday of [Charles] Chesnutt." (W. E. B. Du Bois)
One of the most important books and television series ever to appear, Roots, galvanized the nation, and created an extraordinary political, racial, social and cultural dialogue that hadn't been seen since the publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The book sold over one million copies in the first year, and the miniseries was watched by an astonishing 130 million people. It also won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Roots opened up the minds of Americans of all colors and faiths to one of the darkest and most painful parts of America's past. Over the years, both Roots and Alex Haley have attracted controversy, which comes with the territory for trailblazing, iconic books, particularly on the topic of race. Some of the criticism results from whether Roots is fact or fiction and whether Alex Haley confused these two issues, a subject he addresses directly in the book. There is also the fact that Haley was sued for plagiarism when it was discovered that several dozen paragraphs in Roots were taken directly from a novel, The African, by Harold Courlander, who ultimately received a substantial financial settlement at the end of the case. But none of the controversy affects the basic issue. Roots fostered a remarkable dialogue about not just the past, but the then present day 1970s and how America had fared since the days portrayed in Roots. Vanguard Press feels that it is important to publish Roots: The 30th Anniversary Edition to remind the generation that originally read it that there are issues that still need to be discussed and debated, and to introduce to a new and younger generation, a book that will help them understand, perhaps for the first time, the reality of what took place during the time of Roots.
"The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar--. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music--. This book is a glorious revelation."--Boston Globe Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America--and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman.nbsp;nbsp;Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel. Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.nbsp;nbsp;Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Celie is a poor black woman whose letters tell the story of 20 years of her life, beginning at age 14 when she is being abused and raped by her father and attempting to protect her sister from the same fate, and continuing over the course of her marriage to "Mister," a brutal man who terrorizes her. Celie eventually learns that her abusive husband has been keeping her sister's letters from her and the rage she feels, combined with an example of love and independence provided by her close friend Shug, pushes her finally toward an awakening of her creative and loving self.
Centered squarely on the Negro-white conflict, both Dutchman and The Slave are literally shocking plays--in ideas, in language, in honest anger. They illuminate as with a flash of lightning a deadly serious problem--and they bring an eloquent and exceptionally powerful voice to the American theatre. Dutchman opened in New York City on March 24, 1964, to perhaps the most excited acclaim ever accorded an off-Broadway production and shortly thereafter received the Village Voice's Obie Award. The Slave, which was produced off-Broadway the following fall, continues to be the subject of heated critical controversy.
Originally published in 1911, The Quest of the Silver Fleece was the first novel to come from world-famous sociologist and civil-rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois. A controversial title of its time, the novel chronicles the complex interactions between Northern financing and Southern politics as it follows the story of free-spirited Zora, child of a Southern swamp, and her romance with Yankee-educated Bles, who will eventually face the opportunity to claim political power through corrupt means. In the middle of it all is the silver fleece, a crop of cotton rich with meaning and symbolism. In the tradition of other incendiary novels that explore market forces at the turn of the century, such as Frank Norris's The Pit and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, The Quest of the Silver Fleece was seen as an economic study by Du Bois, yet it was also a romantic and otherwordly saga, loosely based on the Greek myth from which it takes its name. Using literary conventions to expose and oppose America's views on race, Du Bois presents a sprawling and provocative work that continues to engage readers and inspire debate among literary scholars today.
The Street tells the poignant, often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to raise her son amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry's first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million copies in print. Its haunting tale still resonates today.
Initially published in 1937, this novel about a proud, independent black woman has, since its reissue in trade paper in 1978, been the most widely readand highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. With this richly illustrated new edition, the novel is finally accorded the treatment it deserves as a classic.