Day 4 – A New Author to You – Fran Ross is an author that I have never heard of until I saw this book advertised online. It’s called Oreo and was first published in 1974 during the Black Power Movement. Ross was born in Philadelphia in 1935, but would somehow become an overlooked writer after her death. She was brilliant scholastically and athletically. She got a diploma in Theatre, Communications, and Journalism from Temple University. She moved to New York where she worked for McGraw-Hill and later Simon and Schuster. Ross wrote articles for Playboy, Essence, and Titters. She even worked on The Richard Pryor Show. She never got the chance to publish her second novel because of the financial difficulty she was in. She wound up working in publishing as a proofreader and died at the young age of 50 in New York City. Oreo was rediscovered and republished in 2000 by Northeastern University Press and for a third time in 2015 by New Directions Publishing Company.
Oreo – “Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.” (Oreo, back cover of New Directions Publishing company edition)
“A brilliant and biting satire, a feminist picaresque, absurd, unsettling, and hilarious … Ross’ novel, with its Joycean language games and keen social critique, is as playful as it is profound. Criminally overlooked. A knockout.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
My copy: Oreo, paperback – 240 pages
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