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  • Virago

The Richer, The Poorer: Stories, Sketches and Reminiscences

Dorothy West

4 Reviews

Rated 0

Virago Modern Classics, Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

An incredible collection of writing - both essays and short stories - spanning the long career of Dorothy West. Includes a new introduction by Diana Evans.

'West's work is timelessly cinematic, with painterly visual descriptions and pitch-perfect dialogue that ranges across class, region, race, age, and gender' Emma Garman, Paris Review

The stories contained here are as American as jazz, and as wise and multifaceted as their writer. Dorothy West's metier is the unique crucible in which America places its black middle class, but her themes are universal: the daily misunderstandings between young and old, men and women, rich and poor that can lead to tragedy; and the ways in which bonds of family and community can bring us together, and tear us asunder.

Dorothy West's autobiographical essays explore the poles of her remarkable life - from growing up black and middle-class in Boston to her near-mythic trip to Moscow in 1933 with Langston Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance writers to life on her beloved Martha's Vineyard. They cohere into a beautiful and poignant memoir of a singular American life, a memoir that communicates with her short stories in a host of fertile ways. Taken as a whole, THE RICHER, THE POORER is a triumphant celebration of the long life and work of one of America's genuine treasures.

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Praise for The Richer, The Poorer: Stories, Sketches and Reminiscences

  • West's work is timelessly cinematic, with painterly visual descriptions and pitch-perfect dialogue that ranges across class, region, race, age, and gender - Paris Review

  • West writes like a social historian, capturing significant moments that seem to alter lives forever or change nothing at all - Los Angeles Times

  • Unforced perfection . . . beautifully cadenced. West has shown the power of what is left unspoken - Chicago Tribune

  • A collection of 17 short stories and 13 essays sure to secure her reputation as a master of the shorter forms. Though this small volume might appear to be two books in one, the 30 pieces create a singular vision . . . West's world is the world of black people reaching for the American dream in the wake of slavery and often finding themselves betrayed (or betraying themselves) in their struggle to conform to standards that are only half theirs . . . the best of these stories sink into the mind like a perfect piece of homemade fudge melting on the tongue - pure pleasure, pure impact. And the nonfiction pieces are just as good - Washington Post

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Dorothy West

Dorothy West was a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1930s. She founded literary magazines Challenge and New Challenge, with Richard Wright as her associate editor. She was a welfare investigator and relief worker in Harlem during the Depression. Her first novel, The Living is Easy, was published in 1948. Her second novel, The Wedding, was published nearly half a century later, in 1995, and was a bestseller. This was followed by The Richer, The Poorer, a rich collection of stories and essays that spanned her long life. She died in 1998, at the age of ninety-one.

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