Thereafter Johnnie

Carolivia Herron, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (243p) ISBN 978-0-394-57644-2
Bold and brilliant, this lyrical first novel is a compelling modern epic, an allegory of civilization revealed in the pain and passions of an educated African-American family. Composed of 24 parts anchored in the hours of the day, this cyclical tale traces--into the past and future--its heroine's search for her identity. Johnnie Snowdon, mute until the age of 14, is born of the incestuous union between her mother, Patricia, and Patricia's father. When her mother succumbs to madness and commits suicide, Johnnie, who has only vague clues about her father's identity, sets out to find and understand her family. Her odyssey parallels a race war that starts in the nation's capital, as Third World countries battle the U.S. In incantatory prose, Herron evokes the complex eroticism that produced Johnnie, capturing in that metaphor--which is extended in the Snowdon family dynamics--the tensions between black and white, those in power and those in need, those who destroy and those who are self-destructive. Her narrative spans the history of African-Americans, including the incestuous relationships of slaveholders and slaves. Finally, the questing, courageous Johnnie, born of suffering, exemplifies the light that might guide humans toward humane conduct. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 164 pages - 978-0-7596-1485-7
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-0-679-74188-6
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