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Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 FIC SHA Adult Fiction Book
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Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book
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Wellsville - David A. Howe Public Library 1 STACKS FIC Adult Fiction Book
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Summary

Author Notes

Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Linda Williams in Trenton, New Jersey on October 18, 1948. She received a bachelor's degree from Barnard College in 1970 and a master's degree in American studies from the University of Southern California in 1973. She adopted her African name while in graduate school.

She wrote 15 plays, 19 collections of poetry, six novels, five children's books, and three essay collections. Her choreopoem, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf, opened on Broadway in 1976 and received an Obie Award. She also received an Obie in 1981 for her adaptation of Bertold Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children. Her trilogy, Three Pieces, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry in 1981. She died on October 27, 2018 at the age of 70.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Although nearly 10 years have gone by since Shange's last novel, Betsey Brown (1985), her distinctive narrative style and thematic focus haven't changed. Shange is still a more potent poet and playwright than novelist, so her new work of fiction is episodic, inlaid with lush and earthy images, and electric with to-the-beat dialogue that just begs for the give-and-take of a live performance. The novel has some flaws, but it has a strong presence and covers a lot of psychological and cultural territory. Liliane epitomizes Shange's ideal black woman--a profoundly sensual and artistic renegade haunted by the suffering of people of color and her lost loved ones. The daughter of an ambitious, domineering father and a beautiful, selfish mother, Liliane grew up politicized as well as deeply attuned to beauty, eroticism, and the sharp pleasure of living a self-directed life. Shange conducts a rough-and-ready little chorus of friends, cousins, and lovers to tell Liliane's complex and emblematic story. Several chapters are narrated by one of Liliane's more alluring and amusing lovers, Victor-J{{‚}}esus Mar{{¡}}ia, while other sections document Liliane's sessions with her analyst. This is a novel with personality: it's moody, inconsistent, and frustrating. You admire it, learn from it, desire it, and resist it all at the same time. (Reviewed September 1, 1994)0312113102Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

Like her first two novels (Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo; Betsey Brown), Shange's third offers insightful portraits of several young black women, most notably of Liliane, a visual artist. The book's narrative structure, which intersperses vivid prose-poetry with terse dramatic dialogue, is complex, challenging-and sometimes difficult to navigate. Monologues by more than a half-dozen voices collide in cacophany nearly as often as they blend in harmony, and the transcript-like conversations between Liliane and her psychoanalyst are difficult to follow because they're presented with minimal regard to speaker identification. These dialogues reveal Liliane's strong discomfort with racial issues (like Shange, she was raised in an upper-middle class household) and her seismic fury at her mother, whose disappearance when Liliane was a child, it turns out, was due not to her untimely death but to her running off with a white man. Meanwhile, Liliane's voice, as well as those of her friends and lovers, interrupts the psychoanalytic sessions to comment on Liliane's volatile behavior-her propensity to be drawn in many directions as she seeks to assimilate with cultures domestic and foreign, black and white, rich and poor. (Liliane wants to learn ``every language, slave language, any black person in the Western Hemisphere ever spoke,'' remarks Victor-Jesus Maria, one of her lovers: ``She had to believe there was a way of talking herself out of 500 years of disdain.'') In her apparent determination to make Liliane lovable and universal (``We were all blessed,'' comments one character, ``to have the privilege to love her... anybody's colored child, anybody's daughter''), Shange emphasizes her heroine's most appealing qualities: independence, sensuality, intelligence. Still, Liliane remains marvelously complex, a chameleon at once archetypal and idiosyncratic, a woman whose weighty grapplings with the psychic and social forces that both drive and sunder her are leavened with a wicked sense of humor: ``I'm not going to come out of my house,'' she promises at one point, ``until there are some hip black people in outer space.'' 85,000 first printing; author tour. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Exotic and gritty like its heroine, pretentious and yet painfully real, Shange's third novel (following Betsey Brown, LJ 5/15/85) revels in its counterpoints and surprises. Troubled, alluring artist Liliane moves with grace but carries the baggage of familiar unrest and personal tragedy. Shange reveals her intriguing protagonist through her distinctive choices of lovers and friends, which alternate with conversations between Liliane and her analyst as Liliane searches for her lost mother. Evocations of genteel black Queens, vibrant and dangerous Alphabet City, and moody, sensuous Morocco provide a vivid backdrop for episodes of sex, storytelling, childhood drama, and adult thirst. Musical, erotic, and scathingly reactive to racial history, this is a natural for admirers of Anaïs Nin (to whom Shange makes a nod) and of Shange's more celebrated contemporaries Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison. Warmly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/94.]-Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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