In spare, elegant stories reminiscent of the writings of Harlem Renaissance writer Dorothy West, Anika Nailah illuminates the emotional, spiritual, and social realities that shape–and sometimes destroy–the lives and dreams of ordinary African Americans.
The stories in Free offer a moving, strikingly original perspective on how cultural experiences and social assumptions impact our lives. The characters include young children trying to cope with the mysteries of adult behavior, adults striving to define themselves in a society unwilling to accept who and what they are, and elderly people looking back on the often difficult choices they have made. They all share a yearning to be free of the ties imposed by others, ties that bind their bodies, minds, or spirits.
"Trudy" depicts a battle of wills between a black salesclerk and a white customer, shining a harsh light on the bigotry of the 1950s. In "My Side of the Story," a little boy struggles to understand why his mother has abandoned him despite her claims that she loves him. “All These Years” is a touching vignette about a couple married for fifty-four years who reminisce about the attraction they felt at their very first meeting and realize that the magic still remains. In the aptly titled "Inside Out," a man who has adopted all the trappings of the white world–the hair, the clothes, the speech, the attitudes–finds himself still ostracized in his office and gently mocked at home by a wife who embraces her blackness with pride.
In probing the interior landscapes behind the everyday faces her characters assume, Anika Nailah brilliantly exposes the injustices and struggles African Americans confront, the skills they develop in order to survive, and the psychological and spiritual costs of survival.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Free|
|Release Date: 05-14-2002|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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"You cheated me out of fifty cents," the pillbox hat white woman said, sniffing indignantly, anxiously awaiting the scent of a lie.
"No, ma'am," Trudy said, motioning to the next customer. It was a busy Saturday at the store. She'd been on her feet all day.
"Ma'am, if you have a complaint, I suggest you take it up with the manager."
"What's his name? Where is ...?"
At that very moment, Mr. Alcott's hefty belly was guiding him down the canned goods aisle, near the front of the store. He was in search of a stock number the boy he'd hired in desperation yesterday could not find. His ears, trained to pick up the grumblings of a dissatisfied customer from any corner of the store, heard bits and pieces of a conversation at Register 3.
"... ignorant, obstinate ..."
"... Don't put your hands ..."
"... can't even count ... got no business ..."
"... warning you, ma'am ..."
Immediately, he realized this was not a dialogue to miss. After all the talk lately surrounding the Negro Question, due to that Supreme Court decision a month ago in Kansas, the last thing he needed was a race riot in his store. He straightened up as best he could. Tightening his belt around his unwieldy monument to good eating, he smoothed back what was left of his auburn hair, and approached Register 3.
He found two women-one tall, cinnamon; one salt-colored, bony. A crowd had formed. The white woman was old, small. She'd wedged herself into the cramped register space where Trudy stood. Alcott knew that Negro and white eyes were...