Item# 0385411723

Product Description

by J. California Cooper


In this wise, beguiling, beautiful novel set in the era of the Civil War, an award-winning playwright and author paints a haunting portrait of a woman named Always, born a slave, and four generations of her African-American family

Annotation Much has been written about the institution of slavery. But with Family, Cooper has taken the slave narrative and recreated it as an epic, yet collo quial, poem. "Mesmerizing . . . Cooper weaves four wry, humorous, tragic tales that envelop and transcend time, offering hope and renewal at the same time they chronicle desolation and death."--San Francisco Chronicle. (Anchor)January

Publishers Weekly:

In this beautifuly textured first novel by the author of the acclaimed short story collection Homemade Love , the history of one slave family becomes symbolic for all slaves and slaveholders. Clora, the granddaughter of a slave and a slaveholder, refuses to accept her life as chattel and, as did her mother, escapes slavery by committing suicide. She had tried to poison her children first, but they survive and Clora's spirit narrates their story, beginning with her daughter Always. Although her siblings pass for white to escape, dark Always endures the misery of slavery including frequent rape by the slave owner. Stealing his gold to save for anticipated freedom, she risks her life to learn how to read. When she and his wife give birth to sons at the same time, Always switches the babies, of like complexion. Her son grows up in freedom, while she raises the other as a slave--a masterful metaphor for the psychological bondage that slavery imposed on slave masters. Both young men survive the Civil War, and Always lives to see them prosper after emancipation. However, as Clora narrates, racism replaces slavery and humankind continues to suffer from its divisions. With power and grace, Cooper weaves the dialect, style and myths of the South into a portrait of the hell that was slavery. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate; author tour. (Jan.)

Paperback: 240 pages