The Good Negress: A Novel

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Algonquin Books, 1995.
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APA Citation, 7th Edition (style guide)

A. J. Verdelle., & A. J. Verdelle|AUTHOR. (1995). The Good Negress: A Novel . Algonquin Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

A. J. Verdelle and A. J. Verdelle|AUTHOR. 1995. The Good Negress: A Novel. Algonquin Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities (Notes and Bibliography) Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

A. J. Verdelle and A. J. Verdelle|AUTHOR. The Good Negress: A Novel Algonquin Books, 1995.

MLA Citation, 9th Edition (style guide)

A. J. Verdelle, and A. J. Verdelle|AUTHOR. The Good Negress: A Novel Algonquin Books, 1995.

Note! Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy. Citation formats are based on standards as of August 2021.

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Grouped Work IDbd34a60f-d8fd-2f6f-4c9f-2531c29545a1-eng
Full titlegood negress
Authorverdelle a j
Grouping Categorybook
Last Update2023-08-15 21:00:35PM
Last Indexed2023-09-27 06:29:52AM

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    [synopsis] => "Haunting . . . To read The Good Negress is to fall under a spell, to open a window, to fly." -Los Angeles Times Book Review


 Twenty years after its initial publication, The Good Negress continues to be an important part of the literary canon, as relevant and necessary as ever. Set in 1960s Detroit, the novel centers around Denise Palms, who leaves her grandmother's home in rural Virginia to reunite with her mother, stepfather, and older brothers. As a black teenage girl, Denise is given scarce opportunity beyond cooking, cleaning, and raising her mother's baby. But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise's eyes to a future she has never considered, and soon she begins to question the limits of the life prescribed to her.


 With lyrical, evocative prose, A. J. Verdelle captures Denise's journey from adolescence to womanhood as she navigates the tension between loyalty and independence, and between circumstance and desire. The Good Negress is an unforgettable debut-simultaneously the portrait of a family and a glimpse into an era of twentieth-century America.


Winner of the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction A.J. Verdelle was born and raised in Washington, D.C., graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in political science, and went on for two postgraduate degrees in statistics and writing.  She is founder and owner of Applied Statistics and Research, a consulting company in New York. THIS RAIN COMING

 I KNEW I was sleepin too long. And as I have come to know myself, I think I felt her leavin, the door closin behind the belly at the end of my rope. When I did finally shake myself awake, I was at Granma'am's house. I got out of bed, tiptoed down the hall, and peered around the door frame into the quiet front room. Nobody there, or in the front yard. I walked back toward the kitchen, and, there at the line where the floor planks got wider, I had to stop and take a look: one boiled egg, bacon, and glass of brown juice, all sittin so orderly in one place on the table. I dragged a chair over to the open window and climbed up on it. I hung my neck through the window and looked out to the backyard. Granma'am was outside in the bleachin sun, bent over, pullin tomatoes off the vines.

 I stretched farther out the window to see where Mama stood. She would be standin more in the shade, havin conversation. Or maybe foldin clothes she was takin off the line. I reached farther out to see her feet underneath the long white sheets. No feet. Granma'am must have heard my elbow slip. She turned as if I called. "Well, good mornin, sleepyhead," she said, and she was inside, the screen door slappin, before I got down off the chair.

 "Hi, Granma'am. Where's Mama?" I answered.

 Granma'am had red and green and yellow-orange tomatoes stretched out in a dip in her upturned housedress. "Well, hi is you, Baby Sister? You ready for some breakfast?" She has turned her back to me before I can nod my head. One at the time, she lays the tomatoes on the wood board by the sink. Then she brushes off her dress front with her hand and goes over to the big black Vulcan stove that anchored the kitchen's back wall. Her cotton stockings were thick, and she had them rolled down below her knees. There was a bulge on each right side, a knot she had twisted to hold her leggings up.

 "Sit down to the table, Baby Sister." My place at the table was set directly across from the stove. In time, from that place, and that kitchen, I will know all the Vulcan's dents and injuries. I will cause some more.

 Granma'am lifted warm bread across the table and onto the white plate with the yellow-green flowers round the edges. She pushed the plate closer to the egg. And then, in one of the wide chairs with beige and brown flecked vinyl seats and backs, the one to my right,
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