Synopses & Reviews
Sometimes the greatest source of power is language, especially for the disadvantaged. The naming of names, the brandishing of labels, can unify or divide, create an us or a them. This enduring, often painful truth is at the heart of A. J. Verdelle s wise, poignant debut. Twenty years after its initial publication, The Good Negress continues to be an important part of the literary canon, as relevant and necessary as ever.
Set in 1960s Detroit, the novel focuses on young Denise Palms, who moves to Detroit to reunite with her mother, new stepfather, and two older brothers. Raised mostly by her grandmother in rural Virginia, Denise s role in Detroit is to cook, clean, go to school, and take care of her mother s baby when it comes.
But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise s eyes to a future she s never considered. When her two worlds begin to clash, Denise must decide if she will determine her own way forward.
Winner of the Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
A PEN/Faulkner Finalist
A Quality Paperback Book Club Selection"
Haunting . . .To read The Good Negress is to fall under a spell, to open a window, to fly. Los Angeles Times Book Review
Twenty years after its initial publication, The Good Negress continues to be an important part of the literary canon, as relevant and necessary as ever. Set in 1960s Detroit, the novel centers around Denise Palms, who leaves her grandmother s home in rural Virginia to reunite with her mother, stepfather, and older brothers. As a black teenage girl, Denise is given scarce opportunity beyond cooking, cleaning, and raising her mother s baby. But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise s eyes to a future she has never considered, and soon she begins to question the limits of the life prescribed to her.
With lyrical, evocative prose, A. J. Verdelle captures Denise s journey from adolescence to womanhood as she navigates the tension between loyalty and independence, and between circumstance and desire. The Good Negress is an unforgettable debut simultaneously the portrait of a family and a glimpse into an era of twentieth-century America.
Winner of the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the
American Academy of Arts and Letters
Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction"