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Women's History Month: Paule Marshall

Happy International Women's Day! It can be said that black women have always played an important role in the history of the United States, often in the face of adversity. While their stories are often left out of the history books, there are a number of black women authors who have made significant contributions to American literature. IntellectualInk.com will highlight ten black women authors who have made a lasting impact on American culture. Today we honor Paule Marshall and review Brown Girl, Brownstones



According to britannica.com Paule Marshall, original name Valenza Pauline Burke, (born April 9, 1929, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.—died August 12, 2019, Richmond, Virginia), American novelist whose works emphasized a need for black Americans to reclaim their African heritage. The Barbadian background of Burke's parents informed all of her work.




"An unforgettable novel, written with pride and anger, with rebellion and tears." — Herald Tribune Book Review"Passionate, compelling . . . an impressive accomplishment." — Saturday Review"Remarkable for its courage, its color, and its natural control." — The New Yorker





Selina's mother wants to stay in Brooklyn and earn enough money to buy a brownstone row house, but her father dreams only of returning to his island home. Torn between a romantic nostalgia for the past and a driving ambition for the future, Selina also faces the everyday burdens of poverty and racism. Written by and about an African-American woman, this coming-of-age story unfolds during the Depression and World War II. Its setting — a close-knit community of immigrants from Barbados — is drawn from the author's own experience, as are the lilting accents and vivid idioms of the characters' speech. Paule Marshall's 1959 novel was among the first to portray the inner life of a young female African-American, as well as depicting the cross-cultural conflict between West Indians and American blacks. It remains a vibrant, compelling tale of self-discovery.


Reading this book gave me a bird's eye view of a Barbadian household which fascinated me. The imagery and character development was rich and powerful and allowed me to immerse myself in the author's world. Overall I enjoyed reading a historical coming of age tale that featured an African American immigrant family that isn't laced with racial trauma.