Terry McMillan: A Critical Companion

By Paulette Richards | Go to book overview

2
Literary Contexts

Scholars and critics may disagree about the literary merit of McMillan's works, but her status as the first best-selling African American popular fiction writer endows her career with sociocultural interest. What factors have made it possible for an African American woman to succeed as a popular fiction writer at this juncture in American history? What do her millions of readers of all races find to identify with in her stories? And what can the themes in McMillan's novels, which have captured the popular imagination, reveal about widely held values and beliefs of her time? This chapter demonstrates that McMillan's work is rooted in both literary and vernacular traditions of African American storytelling and argues that McMillan is particularly innovative in the creative writing techniques she uses to synthesize these two traditions into a powerful aesthetic vision.


WOMEN'S POPULAR FICTION

It is important to read McMillan's work in the context of the twentiethcentury romance boom for several reasons. First of all, the economic clout of women's fiction helped make it possible for publishers to risk investing in black female popular fiction writers like Terry McMillan and Bebe Moore Campbell. Romance novels account for more than 40 percent of

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Terry McMillan: A Critical Companion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Life of Terry Mcmillan 1
  • 2 - Literary Contexts 21
  • 3 - Mama (1987) 53
  • 5 - Waiting to Exhale (1992) 101
  • 6 - How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1996) 129
  • Index 163
  • About the Author *
  • Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers *
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