Gloria Naylor

American writer

Gloria Naylor (January 25, 1950 – September 28, 2016) was an American novelist, known for novels including The Women of Brewster Place (1982), Linden Hills (1985) and Mama Day (1988).

Gloria Naylor in 2007



Interview with PBS (2000)

  • When I think of the American dream, I think of exclusivity, to be quite honest with you. I think that dream, just like the Foundation of America, was only held out to a few and it was only met for a few. You know, it was not for the most part, for those who had come from Europe, who were land owners, who were part of the aristocracy, who had helped to them the promise that they could indeed prosper in this country. The Constitution was not intended for people who were landless, for people who were not male, for people who were not white. You know, this country was just simply not founded that way. We had to have amendments in order to make this democracy more and more inclusive. And so with the American dream as well, it was held out to those who were white, to those who were male for the most part, and others had to fight for inclusion in it.
  • If you can just first maintain your own humanity, reify your own personal worth. You then flow into the system as an entity.
  • When I think of the American dream, that’s what I think of something that is manufactured, something that is ethereal, something that’s not quite there yet.
  • Perhaps of of the books that we were reading, the one that really stands out the most about the American dream is The Street (by Ann Petry).
  • They are acceptable. The Colin Powells of America. It was such a phenomenon to me, that Colin Powell was so deeply loved by the American media and actually tabbed as becoming president. And when you look back at the man, you sort of understood what could be more American than someone who was willing to die for this country. You know, then then a man who was a general, then a man who was that conservative, you know, a man who was also fair skinned, which was extremely important and who had Republican leanings.
  • That’s what the Depression kind of showed, that hard work guaranteed you nothing.

Quotes about Gloria Naylor

  • There are some young Black women, however, that I particularly want to talk about, younger than I in any case, young Black women who are writing, who are inspirational to me. For example, a group of young women in Atlanta have a magazine called Sage. I'm impressed with Gloria Naylor's continuing to work. I'm impressed certainly with Alice Walker. I was hopeful and am still hopeful of Alyse Sutherland who wrote a book many years ago called Let the Lion Eat Straw. A wonderful book. Lucille Clifton and Carolyn Rogers and those younger Black women who have not become well known. That they continue to struggle and write is inspirational.
  • To me, the great writers who come from ethnic minorities writing in English come from America. I think the deep, the real deep thinkers now writing in the English language are the black women, such as Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker, etc. (F.J.: Where they are using black English in a certain kind of way to signify their difference?) Emecheta: Exactly. You must read Naylor's Mama Day, because she's a modern Zora Neale Hurston. She uses language when it comes to conversation that is not like anything else. So there's an amalgam of the old and the new, and it's beautifully written, the way she's written it. She's a child of today, so she knows what she's talking about.
    • Buchi Emecheta In Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World edited by Feroza Jussawalla and Reed Way Dasenbrock (1992)
  • There is no way you can say that realism is the only literature going. I mean, most of our best novelists are not even writing realism a writers like Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Leslie Silko. They are using realistic techniques to tell stories that are not realistic.
  • I think there's something very special about women writers, black women writers in America and those that I know of in any real sense in Africa-Bessie Head, for example, in Africa or Gloria Naylor here. There's a gaze that women writers seem to have that is quite fascinating to me because they tend not to be interested in confrontations with white men-the confrontation between black women and white men is not very important, it doesn't center the text. There are more important ones for them and their look, their gaze of the text is unblinking and wide and very steady. It's not narrow, it's very probing and it does not flinch. And it doesn't have these funny little axes to grind. There's something really marvelous about that.
    • 1986 interview in Conversations with Toni Morrison edited by Danille K. Taylor-Guthrie (1994)
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