cover image Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry

Conversations with Lorraine Hansberry

Edited by Mollie Godfrey. Univ. Press of Mississippi, $25 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-4968-2964-1

Godfrey (Neo-Passing: Performing Identity After Jim Crow) brings together interviews, essays, and never-before-transcribed audiotapes from groundbreaking playwright Lorraine Hansberry (1930–1965) in this invigorating volume. With the success of Hansberry’s first play, A Raisin in the Sun, in 1959, she became the “the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway, and the first to win the prestigious New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award,” which led to her being at “the middle of a media volcano.” In a 1961 interview with Eleanor Fischer, Hansberry says of race relations in A Raisin in the Sun that there is nothing “more universal in the world than man’s oppression of man.” In another, James Baldwin and Hansberry discuss being Black artists in America: “I can’t imagine a contemporary writer any place in the world today who isn’t in conflict with his world,” Hansberry says. In a 1959 interview, Hansberry says of her process, “I wrote experimentally, only to give myself experience.” These conversations offer both insight into the craft of writing and, notably, a bridge to today’s racial politics in Hansberry’s takes on the relationship between art and protest. Aspiring writers will no doubt find food for thought. (Jan.)