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Mama Day
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About the Author

Gloria Naylor was born in New York City in 1950. She received her B.A. in English from Brooklyn College and her M.A. in Afro-American studies from Yale. Her books include The Women of Brewster Place, which won both the American Book Award and the National Book Award for first novel, and was also adapted into a television movie by Oprah Winfrey; Linden Hills; Bailey's Cafe; and The Men of Brewster Place. She taught writing and literature at George Washington University, New York University, Boston University, and Cornell University. She died in 2016.

Reviews

The beauty of Naylor's prose is its plainness, and the secret power of her third novel is that she does not simply tell a story but brings you face to face with human beings living through the complexity, pain and mystery of real life. But Mama Day is a black story as well as a human story, which is, paradoxically, what makes it such an all-encompassing experience. A young black couple meet in New York and fall in love. Ophelia (``Cocoa'') is from Willow Island, off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia but part of neither state, and George is an orphan who was born and raised in New York. Every August, Cocoa visits her grandmother Abigail and great-aunt Miranda (``Mama Day'') back home. The lure of New York and the magic of home and Mama Day's folk medicines and mystical powers pull at the couple and bring about unforeseen, yet utterly believable, changes in them and their relationship. Naylor interweaves three simple narratives,Cocoa and George alternately tell about their relationship, while a third-person narrative relates the story of Mama Day and Willow Island. The plot is simple; the mystical events of the novel's second part throw a retrospective glow across the more unprepossessing first part, revealing a cornucopia of spiritual and religious themes throughout. Naylor's (The Women of Brewster Place, Linden Hills) skills as a teller of tales are equal to her philosophical and moral aims.The rhythmic alternation of voices and locales here has a narcotic effect that inspires trust and belief in both Mama Day and Naylor herself, who illustrates with convincing simplicity and clear-sighted intelligence the magical interconnectedness of people with nature, with God and with each other. $100,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild selection; author tour. (February 22)

Willow Springs is a sparsely populated sea island just off America's southeastern coast whose small black community is dominated by the elderly matriarch, Miranda ``Mama'' Day. When Mama Day's greatniece, Cocoa, marries, she returns to Willow Springs with her husband for an extended visit. Once there, strange forcesboth natural and supernaturalwork to separate the couple. After visiting the menacing Ruby, a local root doctor, Cocoa becomes dangerously ill, and the struggle for her life showcases Naylor's talent for descriptive prose. Though the novel as a whole fairly breathes with life, it is marred by the unintentionally comic death of a major character, who is attacked by a vicious chicken. This farm boy was not convinced. Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.

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