Mama Flora's Family

Alex Haley, Author, David Stevens, Joint Author Scribner Book Company $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-684-83471-9
Somewhere along the line, the late Haley (Roots) or his collaborator Stevens (Queen) made the calculated decision to sacrifice the warm, personal and often sentimental story of a black sharecropper's life for the more global and sensational sweep of roughly three quarters of a century of African American history. And therein lies just one of the failings of this posthumous novel, which traces the Zelig-like descendants of a larger-than-life matriarch, Mama Flora, from 1920 to the present day. After her young husband, a Tennessee sharecropper, is mortally wounded when caught stealing from white landowners, he makes her promise that their son Willie will get an education. But after Willie drops out of school and is temporarily lured to the fleshpots of Chicago, Flora invests all her energy in her sister's orphan, Ruthana. By the time we see the third generation turn either to drugs or to politics (the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam), the novel has lost all sense of proportion and is shipping its characters to every imaginable hot spot in recent African American (or American, or African) history, from HUAC's persecution of the Jewish family for whom Mama Flora works to political repression under Idi Amin. At the same time, Haley and Stevens lose the human touch that animates the novel's first half--the dollar bill sent as a wedding gift, the mother who pretends to be dropping money into the collection plate in order to keep up appearances. As corny and sentimental as the early chapters are, they have something that the latter portion of the novel lacks, and that's credibility. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
Show other formats
FORMATS
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-04327-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-440-23543-9
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-21957-0
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.