Thursday December 7, 2017
Book Selection: Like One of the Family by Alice Childress
First published in Paul Robeson’s newspaper, Freedom, and composed of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge, Like One of the Family is a wry, incisive portrait of working women in Harlem in the 1950’s. Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts vividly capture her white employers’ complacency and condescension—and their startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind and refuses to exchange dignity for pay.
Upon publication the book sparked a critique of working conditions, laying the groundwork for the contemporary domestic worker movement. Although she was critically praised, Childress’s uncompromising politics and unflinching depictions of racism, classism, and sexism relegated her to the fringe of American literature. Like One of the Family has been long overlooked, but this new edition, featuring a foreword by best-selling author Roxane Gay, will introduce Childress to a new generation.
Alice Childress (1916–1994) was a playwright, novelist, and actress. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, and raised and educated in Harlem, she is the author of numerous plays, including Wedding Band, Wine in the Wilderness, and the Obie Award–winning Trouble in Mind—as well as books for young adults, such as Rainbow Jordan and A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich.
The book club meets at 9 am and 6 pm (you choose which time to attend). New copies of book club selections are 10% off. You do not need to attend all book club meetings to participate.
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