LONGING TO TELL: Black Women Talk About Sexuality and Intimacy

Tricia Rose, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-374-19061-3

Although American culture is heavy with sexual images and suggestion, honest dialogue about sex and its effects can be rare. According to Rose, an American studies professor at U.C.–Santa Cruz, this is especially true for black women, who are most often seen only in stereotypical roles (e.g., welfare mothers, voracious sexual playthings). Yet, she posits, sexuality and intimacy are an enormous part of black women's lives. Rather than use interview snippets to underscore her points, the author presents a collection of oral histories told by 20 women who describe their lives in rich, sometimes startling, detail. The format works well, and Rose steps in only occasionally, at section breaks, to point out the intersections and divergences readers might miss. The tales are heartbreaking, inspiring and brutally honest on topics like AIDS, domestic abuse, race, sexism and erotic adventures. Although the speakers' stories traverse a wide range of experiences, each one chronicles the pain and hard-won triumphs of trying to be a black woman in a society they often find cold and hostile. They speak out on their treatment by and attitudes toward black men in a way that is far removed from the popular fiction that they supposedly identify with. By letting the women speak for themselves and following the histories with a passionate afterword, Rose provides a collection that is as compelling as it is sorely needed. Agent, Geri Thoma. (June)

Forecast:Rose has garnered advance praise from Cornel West, Naomi Wolf and others. Newsweek recently ran a cover story on black women, and if the attention continues, the book could do well.

Reviewed on: 04/07/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-312-42372-8
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-1-4299-2345-3
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