Sometimes the greatest source of power is language, especially for the disadvantaged. The naming of names, the brandishing of labels, can unify or divide, create an us or a them. This enduring, often painful truth is at the heart of A. J. Verdelle’s wise, poignant debut. 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 focuses on young Denise Palms, who moves to Detroit to reunite with her mother, new stepfather, and two older brothers. Raised mostly by her grandmother in rural Virginia, Denise’s role in Detroit is to cook, clean, go to school, and take care of her mother’s baby when it comes.
But an idealistic, demanding teacher opens Denise’s eyes to a future she’s never considered. When her two worlds begin to clash, Denise must decide if she will determine her own way forward.
Winner of the Harold D. Vursell Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters
A PEN/Faulkner Finalist
A Quality Paperback Book Club Selection