The Fisher King by Paule Marshall
A Novel

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In 1949, Sonny-Rett Payne, a black jazz pianist, fled New York for Paris to escape both his family's disapproval of his art and the racism that shadowed his career. His spectacular success in Europe and his subsequent death there form the dramatic background of Paule Marshall's gorgeous fifth novel, a moving and revelatory story of jazz, love, family conflict, and the artist's struggles in society.
Decades after Sonny-Rett left, his eight-year-old Parisian grandson is brought to his old Brooklyn neighborhood to attend a memorial concert in Payne's honor. The child's visit reveals the persistent rivalries within the family and the community that drove his grandfather into exile. Will the young boy be a harbinger of change and reconciliation or a pawn in the power struggle of those who now wish to claim him in Sonny-Rett's name?
Marshall, who grew up in Brooklyn and set her first novel there -- the classic Brown Girl, Brownstones -- deftly makes the neighborhood itself a protagonist. With characters of astonishing depth and complexity, she chronicles the myths, betrayals, and angers that can alienate people for decades. Yet The Fisher King offers hope in the healing and redemptive power of one memorable boy.

About Paule Marshall

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Paule Marshall teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University, where her yearly reading series featuring the work of young black writers is a popular event. She is the author of six books, including her classic novel Brown Girl, Brownstones. Among her many awards and honors are a John Dos Passos Award for Literature, an American Book Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. She lives in New York City and Richmond, Virginia.
Published October 1, 2000 by Scribner. 222 pages
Genres: Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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While their mothers never forgive it (or each other for allowing it), Sonny-Rett and Cherisse escape to Paris after WWII, and there Sonny-Rett becomes a world-famous jazz musician and composer, and Cherisse his happy wife.

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Publishers Weekly

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As Sonny-Rett's fame and reputation grow, Cherisse loses focus on her budding career, and with her friend Hattie Carmichael, follows Sonny-Rett to his gigs;

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Book Reporter

Both of these strong-willed women, in trying to shape their children to their desires, did the very thing they didn't want --- instead of bringing their children closer to them, the two mothers, Ulene and Florence Varina, drove their adult children out of their lives.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Fisher King: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Paule Marshall's haunting novel about the Brooklyn family of a black jazz musician who left home to find fame in Paris, The Fisher King, sneaks up on you like a deceptively simple tune that's impossible to forget.

Oct 20 2000 | Read Full Review of The Fisher King: A Novel

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