Writer of the Month
African-American novelist, playwright, and essayist Gloria Naylor was born on January 25, 1950, in New York City, New York, and died on September 28, 2016, in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands. She in renouned for her personal and developed insights and portrayals of the lives of women and especially women of color in her stories. She attended Brooklyn University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English, and continuing her education at Yale University, earning a Masters of Arts in African American Studies. She received numerous honors, awards and fellowships for her work throughout her artistic career. Her most well-known work is her debut novel, formatted as a collection of fictional short stories, entitled The Women of Brewster Place. It was published in 1982 and received a National Book Award in 1983 and was also adapted as a motion picture. Other praised works of hers include Linden Hills, Mama Day, and Bailey’s Café, the latter for which she herself wrote the stage adaptation.
The Women of Brewster Place details the lives of seven African American women who have all ended up in the same underserved urban neighborhood. Their intertwining lives are recounted through decades of strife and revelation, exploring the niches and corners of their experience and circumstance.
“Brewster Place became especially fond of its colored daughters as they milled like determined spirits among its decay, trying to make it home. Nutmeg arms leaned over windowsills, gnarled ebony legs carried groceries up double flights of steps, and saffron hands strung out wet laundry on backyard lines. Their perspiration mingled with the steam from boiling pots of smoked pork greens, and it curled on the edges of the aroma of vinegar douches and Evening in Paris cologne that drifted through the street where they stood together - hands on hips, straight-backed, round-bellied, high-behinded women who threw their heads back when they laughed and exposed strong teeth and dark gums. They cursed, badgered, worshiped, and shared their men. Their love drove them to fling dishcloths in someone else's kitchen to help him make the rent, or to fling hot lye to help him forget that bitch behind the counter at the five-and-dime. They were hard-edged, soft-centered, brutally demanding, and easily pleased, these women of Brewster Place. They came, they went, grew up, and grew old beyond their years. Like an ebony phoenix, each in her own time and with her own season had a story.”
- Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place, 1982
One Way Mirror
by Sara Crapanzano
I often see you through a glimmering wall. All of your words echo over space to reach my ears until they bleed your thoughts. I am in school. My teacher calls my name but I can't hear her somewhere beyond the deafening sound of rotting and security. Apparently it's time to take a test. Let's see what we've learned: absolutely nothing. Why should I be the slightest bit intrigued by some numbers when I have an entire other life waiting for me in 8 months? Sometimes I worry because I try to get your attention, but you can't see me no matter how loud I scream or how hard I bang. You were only a piece of me.