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Bambara, Toni Cade

(US, 1931–95)

A black feminist and civil rights activist, Bambara is a story-teller who believes that stories can save lives, snatching us back from the edge to hear what happens next. Her two main collections, with their gospel, blues, bebop, and jazz idioms, are deeply influenced by the musicians and orators she heard as a child in Harlem. Begin with Gorilla My Love (1972), which introduces Hazel, a bold and combative black girl, and her family and friends on the block, and then go on to The Seabirds are Still Alive (1977). Bambara's first novel, The Salt Eaters (1980), tells the stories past and present of the imaginary town of Claybourne, Georgia. The modern-day inhabitants are about to begin their spring festival when they witness an event which stuns them all. Thanks to their spiritual kinship and accumulated ancestral wisdom, they find the will to defy the menace which towers over them.

Gloria Naylor, Ntozake Shange  JN

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)