Review by Choice Review
The most recent addition to the "Understanding Contemporary American Literature" series, this volume provides an excellent introduction to the five novels Naylor has published over almost two decades. After a brief introduction that sketches the salient details of Naylor's life and work, Whitt (Univ. of Denver) turns her attention to a close analysis of the individual novels, framing each discussion with summaries of contemporary reviews and the critical reception of the work. She treats Naylor's first four novels as a carefully conceived quartet, linked by interconnected landscapes, characters, themes, and images. From this perspective, Naylor's award-winning first novel, The Women of Brewster Place--which underscores the depths of Naylor's passion for exploring the diversity of black women's lives--can be seen as the wellspring of her subsequent fictional efforts. Whitt then explores sense of place, language, myth, and symbol in Linden Hills, Bailey's Cafe, and Mama Day. She concludes with an examination of Naylor's most recent novel, The Men of Brewster Place (1998), a work that revisits the neighborhood of her first novel and offers a coda to her quartet. Written in a straightforward and accessible style, Whitt's intelligent study includes organized footnotes and an excellent bibliography that offer undergraduates and graduate students direction for further study. Highly recommended. J. A. Miller; George Washington University
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