Saturday, April 3, 2010

Urban Fiction Authors April - Various

Spring signifies a new beginning, so we want to give you a taste of some new “blooming” authors that you may not be aware. These authors may have been around, but their works are just now being showcased in libraries. For the month of April, we are going to spotlight four new writers in the urban fiction genre. We are hoping that these new authors will make their way into your hearts and minds through their books. Enjoy!

Title: The Darkest Child
Author: Delores Phillips
Genre: Urban Fiction

Delores Phillips was born in Bartow County, Georgia in 1950, the second of four children. She graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of arts in English and works as a nurse at a state psychiatric hospital. Her work has appeared in "Jean's Journal," "Black Times," and "The Crisis." She has lived in Cleveland, Ohio since 1964. (Retrieved Booksite, 3/22/10)

Phillips's searing debut reveals the poverty, injustices, and cruelties that one black family suffers--some at the hands of its matriarch--in a 1958 backwater Georgia town. The punishment and tortures that the children endure are beyond imaginable.

Rozelle Quinn is so fair-skinned that she can pass for white. Her ten children, each by different men are mostly light, too. They constitute the only world she rules and controls. Her power over them is all she has in an otherwise cruel and uncaring universe.

In fact, Rozelle has ideas for all her children. She forces all of them, even grown sons Sam and Harvey, to give her any money they earn. She compels them to shoplift, tortures them with cigarette burns and disfiguring beatings, makes some of them work as prostitutes, and enforces her will on them through a household reign of terror. Though they are important to her, and she might love them in her own way, she rules them with brutal violence, harrowing mood swings, psychological abuse, and depraved cruelty. (Excerpt from Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, retrieved 3/22/10)

Rozelle favors her light-skinned kids, but Tangy Mae, 13, her darkest-complected child, is the brightest. She desperately wants to continue with her education. Her mother, however, has other plans. Rozelle wants her daughter to work cleaning houses for whites, like she does, and accompany her to the "Farmhouse," where Rozelle earns extra money bedding men. Tangy Mae, she's decided, is of age. This is the story from an era when life's possibilities for an African-American were unimaginably different.

This is a book that I would recommend for mature readers. The content is very disturbing and very real. It is a fast read, because you always want to know what is next and how much more pain and humiliation Rozelle is willing to inflict upon her children. This is something aside from the ordinary urban fiction, but a worthwhile read, nonetheless.

What did you think of Rozelle and her treatment of her children? Do you think she deserved everything that happened to her, or were others to blame? Do you think the children had any other options besides staying in an abusive household?

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