Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion

Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion

Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion

Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion


In each of her five novels, Gloria Naylor invites the reader to join her characters in their journeys to move beyond established boundaries and embrace an increasingly diverse society. With lucid analyses of each work, this Critical Companion helps readers comprehend how Naylor successfully links the trials of her African American characters to the struggles of human beings at variance with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Insights into Naylor's own struggles and successes are provided in a richly drawn biographical chapter, which incorporates fresh materials from a recent interview conducted for this book. Naylor's place within the larger framework of the African American narrative traditions is considered as well.

Beginning with a full chapter on Naylor's debut success The Women of Brewster Place (1982), the literary components of each novel are examined: Linden Hills (1985) Mama Day (1988), Bailey's Cafe (1992), and The Men of Brewster Place (1998). In addition to a comprehensive plot synopsis, character portraits, and thematic discussions given for each, all works are carefully related to their historical contexts. By understanding the extent to which seminal events, such as the Great Migration and the ushering in of the Civil Rights Movement, serve as the background for Naylor's works, readers can better appreciate them. Throughout the text, particularly in the alternate critical readings provided, all terms and concepts are clearly explained for the student and the general reader. A select bibliography cites biographical sources, interviews, reviews, criticism, and related works of interest.


The authors who appear in the series Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers are all best-selling writers. They do not simply have one successful novel, but a string of them. Fans, critics, and specialist readers eagerly anticipate their next book. For some, high cash advances and breakthrough sales figures are automatic; movie deals often follow. Some writers become household names, recognized by almost everyone.

But, their novels are read one by one. Each reader chooses to start and, more importantly, to finish a book because of what she or he finds there. The real test of a novel is in the satisfaction its readers experience. This series acknowledges the extraordinary involvement of readers and writers in creating a best-seller.

The authors included in this series were chosen by an Advisory Board composed of high school English teachers and high school and public librarians. They ranked a list of best-selling writers according to their popularity among different groups of readers. For the first series, writers in the top-ranked group who had received no book-length, academic, literary analysis (or none in at least the past ten years) were chosen. Because of this selection method, Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers meets a need that is being addressed nowhere else. The success of these volumes as reported by reviewers, librarians, and teachers led to an expansion of the series mandate to include some writ-

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