Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry

Imani Perry. Beacon, $27.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8070-6449-8
Perry (May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem) explores the art and life of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, who wrote A Raisin in the Sun, about the struggles of an African-American family in mid-century inner-city Chicago, and died at the age of 34 in 1965. “She was one of those great artists whose life rode the wave of some of the most pivotal and complex moments in American history,” Perry writes. “World War II, McCarthyism, civil rights. Lorraine was right in the thick of it, trying to make sense of it all.” Perry also details Hansberry’s activities as a socialist; writes with curiosity and empathy about her complex personal life, including her marriage to a white man, Robert Nemiroff, and her romances with women; and examines the influences upon her of her college-educated parents and mentors, friends such as James Baldwin and Nina Simone, and fellow writers such as Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Gwendolyn Brooks. Insightful literary analyses of Hansberry’s writings fit alongside annotations of excerpts from her diaries and admiring and affectionate declarations about her. This book, “less a biography than a genre yet to be named—maybe third-person memoir?”, is an unusual and exceptional encomium to a brilliant writer and thinker. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2018
Release date: 09/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-9749-2443-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-9749-2444-8
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