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Naylor, Gloria

black poor rich class

(US, 1950– )

Naylor was born into a black working-class family from the rural South, and became a sort of street preacher before enrolling at Brooklyn College aged 25. The characters in her novels live out their lives in troubled but distinctive black communities of both rich and poor. Begin with Mama Day (1988), an unusual love-story which moves from New York to the imaginary offshore island of Willow Springs. The astonishing tale of Cocoa and her husband George unfolds in this ancestral setting with its legends, witchcraft, and belief in the future. Equally rich in character and atmosphere is The Women of Brewster Place (1983), a novel made up of seven stories about poor but courageous black women who defy and sometimes transcend the circumstances of their ghetto. Linden Hills (1985) deals not with the poor but with middle-class black aspirants on a rich estate with cruel and inverted values.

Toni Cade Bambara, Ntokaze Shange, Barbara Kingsolver  JN

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