Synopses & Reviews
Billy Beede, the teenage daughter of the fast-running, no-account, and six-years-dead Willa Mae, comes home one day to find a fateful letter waiting for her: Willa Mae’s burial spot in LaJunta, Arizona, is about to be plowed up to make way for a supermarket.
As Willa Mae’s only daughter, Billy is heiress to her mother’s substantial but unconfirmed fortune—a cache of jewels that Willa Mae’s lover, Dill Smiles, is said to have buried with her. Dirt poor, living in a trailer with her Aunt June and Uncle Roosevelt behind a gas station in a tumbleweedy Texas town, and pregnant with an illegitimate child, Billy knows that treasure could mean salvation. So she steals Dill’s pickup truck and, with her aunt and uncle in tow, heads for Arizona with Dill in hot pursuit. While everyone agrees it’s only polite to speak of getting mother’s body and moving her to a proper resting place, it’s well understood that digging up Willa Mae’s diamonds and pearls will make the whole trip a lot more worthwhile.
The enormously accomplished fiction debut from Suzan-Lori Parks, the 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Getting Mother’s Body takes its place in the company of the classic works of Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. But when it comes to an ingenious, uproarious knack for depicting the trifling, hard-luck, down-and-out souls who need a little singing and laughing and lying and praying to get through the day, Suzan-Lori Parks shares the stage with no one.
From the Hardcover edition.
"More conventional in form and less excitingly engaged with American history than her plays, but good enough to cause hope that more may come." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] straightforward, light-footed novel with none of the bleak, doomy undertones of Faulkner's; it's just about as funny and not nearly as scary....Parks brings a dramatist's skills to her fiction, and they are nothing to sneeze at." Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review
"Parks...has ably transferred her talent for character and dialog from the stage to the pages of her first novel....Parks lets the reader travel along as a welcome passenger as Billy and her family journey...to an unexpected treasure." Library Journal
"Getting Mother's Body
will bring some much needed fun to PC reading lists. But it has something deeper going for it, buried under all that style. Parks has imagined a cast of characters that are perverse, desperate, hilarious, and truly original." Anna Godsbersen, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
From this year's winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, an enormously accomplished and original debut novel about a down-on-their-luck black family in 1960s Texas in search of the storied jewels buried with one of their relatives. When Billy Beede returns home to the trailer she shares with Aunt June and Uncle Roosevelt, a fateful letter awaits her.
About the Author
Suzan-Lori Parks is a novelist, playwright, songwriter, and screenwriter. She was the recipient of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/ Underdog, as well as a 2001 MacArthur “genius grant.” Her other plays include Fucking A, In the Blood, The America Play, Venus, and The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World. Her first feature film, Girl 6, was directed by Spike Lee. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, where she studied with James Baldwin, she has taught creative writing in universities across the country, including at the Yale School of Drama, and she heads the Dramatic Writing Program at CalArts. She is currently writing an adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise for Oprah Winfrey, and the musical Hoopz for Disney. She lives in Venice Beach, California, with her husband, blues musician Paul Scher, and their pit bull, Lambchop.
From the Hardcover edition.