Gloria Naylor is the 4th Zale-Kimmerling Writer-In-Residence (1988)
Gloria Naylor, a native of New York City, is renowned as an African-America novelist, educator, and screenwriter. Naylor was the featured Zale-Kimmerling writer in 1988.
Gloria Naylor was born in 1950 New York City to Alberta and Roosevelt Naylor, sharecroppers originally hailing from Robinsonville, Mississippi. Naylor's mother, a telephone operator, encouraged her daughter's literary talents from an early age. Post high-school, Naylor served as a Jehova's Witness missionary from 1968 to 1975, eventually deciding to return to school to pursue a bachelors degree in English from Brooklyn College. Naylor names her college-years exposure to the work of Toni Morrison as a huge factor in her pursuit of a writing career: she began to pay careful attention to the work of the renowned African-American novelist. In 1982, Naylor published The Women of Brewster Place: A Novel in Seven Stories, a novel composed of seven interconnected women's stories. The novel's hard-hitting and honest look at the damaging effects of racism and sexism caught the eye of the literary world: the book was awarded the National Book Award for best first novel in 1983.
Naylor's second novel, the 1985 Linden Hills, concerned the adventures of two young poets in a fearsomely upwardly mobile African-American middle class neighborhood, patterned after Dante's emblematic rings of hell. The poet's wanderings reveal the sickness of the community's wealthy inhabitants, who have thrown aside morality and culture in the name of wealth and material possessions - all couched under a blanket of supposed black equality.
Naylor's third novel, the 1988 Mama Day, functions as both love story and black narrative, concerning the romantic relationship between George, a boy from New York City and Cocoa, a girl hailing from an island situated right between Georgia and South Carolina. The novel intersperses the couple's account of their relationship with the mysterious folk-remedies and workings of Cocoa's great-aunt Miranda, the eponymous "Mama Day." Rife with historical, spiritual, and religious themes and set pieces, the novel exemplifies both Naylor's thematic range and simple yet emotionally gripping writing style. Naylor has also published the 1992 Bailey's Cafe, concerning the intersecting and profoundly personal stories of a group of mostly female repeat diner-customers. Bailey's Cafe was then adapted into a 1994 stage treatment.
Naylor's accolades and grants include a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts in 1985, a Guggenheim fellowship in 1988, service as a cultural exchange lecturer for the United States Information Agency in India, and a position as a writer-in-residence at the Cummington Community of Arts in 1983. Naylor has also served as a visiting professor at George Washington University, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Princeton, Boston University, Brandeis University, and Cornell.
The Men of Brewster Place (1999)
Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to the Present (1995)
Bailey's Café (1992)
Mama Day (1988)
Linden Hills (1985)
The Women of Brewster Place (1982)
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