Brown Girl, Brownstones
New York: Random House, 1959. 1st Edition. Octavo, publisher's grey marbled paper over black cloth, spine stamped in red, white, and blindstamped, top edge stained red, original illustrated dust jacket.
First edition of Paule Marshall’s first novel, the story of a Barbadian immigrant family and the poverty and racism they face trying to make a life in Brooklyn. Selina, the young protagonist, is torn between her parents’ opposing fantasies of the future–her mother aspires to achieve the American Dream and purchase a brownstone, while her father fantasizes of returning to Barbados–a conflict that helps her shape her own identify and relationship to a “home.” Marshall herself was a first-generation American born to Barbadians immigrants in Depression-era Bedford-Stuyvesant, an experience that inspired her writing throughout her career. “Africa, Barbados, Brooklyn, that’s the triangle that defines me and my work” (from a 2009 interview with the New York Times). In the Norton Anthology of African American Literature Cheryl Wall describes Brown Girl, Brownstones as “the novel that most black feminist critics consider to be the beginning of contemporary African-American women’s writings.” Dust jacket design by John O’Hara Cosgrove II; author photo to rear panel by Edmund Edwards. Previous ownership signature to upper pastedown. Price clipped dust jacket with some rubbing to spine ends, old tape repairs at spine head verso, few instances of light soiling on rear panel. Very good. Item #5175