Whether weaving family life and history into dark fiction or writing speculative Afrofuturism, American Book Award winner and Essence bestselling author Tananarive Due's work is both riveting and enlightening. In her debut collection of short fiction, Due takes us to Gracetown, a small Florida town that has both literal and figurative ghost; into future scenarios that seem all too real; and provides empathetic portraits of those whose lives are touched by Otherness. Featuring an award-winning novella and fifteen stories-one of which has never been published before-GHOST SUMMER: STORIES, is sure to both haunt and delight.
Multiple time-lines and alternate branching destinies are more often associated with science fiction than horror, but in this first novel by an African-American woman, a man who has cheated death finds that his ability to walk through doorways in time brings dark forces into his life. Due employs a lucid, almost stately, prose style to evoke an escalating sense of menace toward a middle-class American family with connections to Ghana. Dreams? Madness? Ghosts? A racist killer? What is happening to these people?
From Publishers Weekly
Although set largely in the black and Hispanic communities of Florida's Dade County, Due's first novel, a skillful blend of horror and the supernatural, poses questions about life and identity that transcend racial boundaries. Thirty years after he was saved from drowning by the beloved grandmother who died in his place, Hilton James has built a secure middle-class life for his African American family and saved a few lives himself through his social work in Miami's inner city. His comfortable existence is shattered when his wife, a judge, begins receiving racist death threats and he starts having nightmares of alternate life experiences so authentic that they begin to loosen his grip on reality. Is Hilton a latent schizophrenic, as his therapist thinks? Or are the dreams and death threats both signs of a cosmic scheme in which Hilton is meant to accept the death that he eluded before? The mystical explanation Due posits for Hilton's predicament, involving "travelers," or persons who unconsciously use dreams as "doorways" to elude fate and live in "the between" world, is not nearly as disturbing as her depiction of Hilton's gradual decline from caring husband and father to a man who lashes out in frustration against those he loves. Her sympathetic and credible portrait of Hilton as a man discomposed by his encounter with the unknown compensates for the novel's underdeveloped supporting cast. Due also subtly suggests the horrifying thought that pervades the story but is left tactfully unspoken: if each of us creates our own reality, then ultimately we are all alone in the world. $25,000 ad/ promo; author tour. U.K. and translation rights, HarperCollins; other rights, Marie Brown Associates.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Publishers Weekly
An entrepreneur and an innovator in African-American hair care became the first black female millionaire in America. The life of this historical figure, born Sarah Breedlove, was researched heavily by Alex Haley and proves to be a rich subject for Due, who relied on interviews, letters and other data compiled by the late author of Roots. The strong-willed heroine was born in Delta, La., in the 1860s to sharecropper parents, and was orphaned at age seven. Sarah and her older sister, Lou, find employment as washerwomen for a spirited black woman who runs a laundry business in Vicksburg, Miss. At 14, Sarah marries a good man, but when he is brutally killed, she and her daughter, Lelia, are nearly destitute, until Sarah starts her own laundry business in St. Louis. Sarah works hard for years before stumbling upon the "miracle" ingredientAsulfurAthat cures her painful, itching scalp and promotes hair growth. Perfecting her increasingly popular concoction, she turns her kitchen into a production line/beauty parlor. After she marries flashy adman C.J. Walker, a nationwide ad campaign turns Madam C.J. Walker into a household name, the business funding a beauty college where women ("black roses") are trained to care for African-American hair. Walker gains entry to the black elite and extraordinary material wealth, yet the same toil that builds her business leads to personal heartbreak and cuts her life short. The author of two supernatural thrillers (My Soul to Keep; The Between), Due's leap into historical fiction is accomplished and enlivened by rich characterizations. A few flash-forward scenes necessary for the story's irony or suspense barely halt the polished pacing and keen-eared dialogue as this dramatic rags-to-riches narrative moves briskly toward a bittersweet end. Agent, John Hawkins. Sample chapter distributed through select African-American beauty salons nationwide; 5-city author tour. (June) FYI: Due's own grandmother was a graduate of the Madam C.J. Walker School of Beauty Culture.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA-A fictionalized account of Madame C. J. Walker's riveting life as researched by Alex Haley prior to his death. Born Sarah Breedlove, Walker rose from an uneducated laundress to a woman of wealth. She was an ingenious and brilliant entrepreneur who created numerous hair and beauty products for women; however, she is most renowned for her invention of "the pressing comb" which allowed black women to relax their hair. Black leaders such as Booker T. Washington often sought her support both financially and as a community leader. Her legacy is reflective in many of the writings of Langston Hughes. Moreover, Walker was known as an elegant public speaker, and often commenced her speeches with the well-known one-liner, "I got my start by giving myself a start." Accordingly, the "Black Rose" (a phrase coined by Walker) believed that if an individual worked hard she could achieve her goals and much more. Wealth and notoriety came with a price, however: personal sacrifice and loss. Teen readers will love this fascinating novel.
ayo dayo, Chinn Park Regional Library, Prince William, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the author of the national bestseller My Soul to Keep comes a riveting new novel of supernatural suspense — a gripping tale that brilliantly showcases a writer at the pinnacle of her astounding storytelling abilities.
Jessica Jacobs-Wolde has somehow survived the worst that any mother or wife could ever endure: the deaths of her husband and first daughter. But now, four years later, not only is the nightmare continuing — it may have only just begun. Jessica has discovered the terrifying truth behind the legacy that her husband left to their second daughter, Fana...a legacy preordained a thousand years before her time and drenched in the powerful lifeblood that now courses through her veins. As young Fana begins to display unearthly abilities that are quickly spiraling out of control, she becomes the target of those who will stop at nothing to exploit her power — and the unwitting touchstone in an ancient supernatural battle whose...