Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange
A Novel

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Groundbreaking and heartbreaking, this triumphant novel by two of America’s most acclaimed storytellers follows a family of women from enslavement to the dawn of the twenty-first century.

From Reconstruction to both world wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam, from spirituals and arias to torch songs and the blues, Some Sing, Some Cry brings to life the monumental story of one American family's journey from slavery into freedom, from country into city, from the past to the future, bright and blazing ahead. Real-life sisters, Ntozake Shange, award-winning author of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf and Ifa Bayeza, award-winning playwright of The Ballad of Emmett Till, achieve nothing less than a modern classic in this story of seven generations of women, and the men and music in their lives.

Opening dramatically at a sprawling plantation just off the South Carolina coast, recently emancipated slave Bette Mayfield quickly says her goodbyes before fleeing for Charleston with her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow. She and Eudora carve out lives for themselves in the bustling port city as seamstress and fortune-teller. Eudora marries, the Mayfield lines grows and becomes an incredibly strong, musically gifted family, a family that is led, protected, and inspired by its women. Some Sing, Some Cry chronicles their astonishing passage through the watershed events of American history.  


About Ntozake Shange

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Ntozake Shange is a renowned playwright, poet, and novelist. Her works include the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Liliane, Betsey Brown, and Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund and a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of Barnard and recipient of a Masters in American Studies from University of Southern California, she lives in Brooklyn.
Published September 14, 2010 by St. Martin's Press. 576 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Some Sing, Some Cry

Kirkus Reviews

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The authors range across centuries and continents, and to all appearances they’ve enjoyed the work of creating a world and peopling it with “lords, ladies, starlets, gigolos, gangsters, and aldermen—band leaders, bootleggers, and bag men—prophets, pigfoot hawkers, and professional partiers”—to sa...

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The New York Times

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For roughly the last half-century, nearly every black female writer of any consequence in America seems to have had one very particular story to tell — or, rather, one particular question she’s tried to answer: Just how in heaven (or hell) have black women managed to survive?

Sep 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Some Sing, Some Cry: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Sisters and playwrights Ntozake Shange (for colored girls who have considered suicide) and Ifa Bayeza (the play The Ballad of Emmett Till) have composed a sweeping African-American saga animating 200 years of history through the voices of seven generations of the Mayfield family's women, beginnin...

Jul 26 2010 | Read Full Review of Some Sing, Some Cry: A Novel


Mayfield maintained a dual family life with his family in his plantation home and his children with Ma Bette until Ma Bette falls out of his favor, thus losing her prosperous, though ambiguous status.

Mar 04 2011 | Read Full Review of Some Sing, Some Cry: A Novel

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