AP Reading List: More Modern Selections
Annotated Bibliography and Summary
Allende, Isabel. The House of the Spirits.
Summary: On the surface, Allende¡¯s novel is the story of Esteban Trueba, his wife, his children, and his granddaughter. But The House of the Spirits is also the story of political corruption, patriarchal authority, feminine oppression, and the movement from the old world into the new. The action in the novel spans four generations and covers more than fifty years of history. During those fifty years, the country changes, first through technology and modern communications, and later through the desire to find a better life. Nivea and Clara become suffragettes, and Jaime works to improve people¡¯s lives, while Alba becomes involved in a protest movement that will ultimately ask great sacrifices of her. The House of the Spirits is filled with violence and corruption, but it is also filled with love and magic.
Allison, Dorothy. Bastard Out of
Summary: This novel is a coming of age narrative, written from the perspective of Bone, the out-of-wedlock (hence, bastard) young daughter of one of the fiercely proud, dirt-poor Boatwrights of Greenville County, South Carolina. The story moves from Bone's very young recollections of life with her waitress mother Anne and her numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins; through her mother's brief marriage and quick widowhood; to her volatile, painful marriage to Daddy Glenn, whose jealousy of Bone, combined with his own destructive evilness, leads the story to a heinous climax of sexual abuse.
Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of the Butterflies.
Summary: When people think of the
Anaya, Rudolfo A. Bless me, Ultimo.
Summary: Ultima, an old curandera or healer, comes to live with the family of a young New Mexican boy who learns from her about the healing powers of the natural environment and the human spirit. Antonio's family respects her wisdom and legendary power, though some in the community believe she is a witch. Antonio finds himself drawn to her and under her tutelage develops an awareness of the primal energies of earth and sky that affect human lives and fate.
Asimov, Isaac. I, Robot. Garden City,
Summary: In this collection, one of the great classics of science fiction, Asimov set out the principles of robot behavior that we know as the Three Laws of Robotics. Here are stories of robots gone mad, mind-reading robots, robots with a sense of humor, robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world, all told with Asimov's trademark dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction.
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor. The Handmaid¡¯s Tale.
Summary: The novel focuses on one handmaid, Offred (she is given the name of the man whose children she is expected to bear--she is of Fred). Offred became a handmaid after an attempt to escape with her daughter and husband from
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor. The Blind Assassin.
Eighty-two-year-old Iris Chase reflects on her far from exemplary life and her perilous times, in particular on the events surrounding the suicide of her younger sister Laura. Chief among these was the publication of The Blind Assassin, a novel which earned the dead Laura notoriety and a cult following. Sexually explicit for its time and place, The Blind Assassin describes a risky affair in the turbulent 1930s between a wealthy young woman and a left-leaning man on the run. As that story twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real one, while events in both move closer to war and catastrophe.
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor. The Edible Woman.
Summary: Set in
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Summary: In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon.
Summary: When Morgan le Fay (Morgaine) has to sacrifice her virginity during fertility rites, the man who impregnates her is her younger brother Arthur, whom she turns against when she thinks he has betrayed the old religion of Avalon.
Burns, Olive Ann. Cold Sassy Tree.
Summary: Modern times come to a conservative Southern town in 1906 when the proprietor of the general store elopes with a woman half his age, and worse yet, a Yankee.
Summary: The protagonist is Lauren Olamina, an African American girl who is fifteen years old when the novel begins. She lives in Robledo, about twenty miles from
Carson, Rachel. Silent Spring.
Summary: First published in the
Chevalier, Tracy. Girl With a
Summary: A maid becomes a model for the 17th century Dutch painter, Vermeer. The woman, an artisan's daughter with a strong power of observation, describes his manner of work, his household and life of the day, including the rigid class system and religious bigotry.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on
Summary: The story is told by Esperanza, and begins when she first moves to
Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. [
Summary: The Alchemist is an enlightening story about a shepherd's quest to "find his treasure". Along the way, he encounters helpful guides as well as seemingly insurmountable obstacles. As he nears the end of his journey, he finds, in an ironic twist, that it isn't what or where he thought is was. This is recommended reaing for all the seekers of the world.
Conroy, Pat. The Great Santini.
Summary: Colonel Bull Meecham is a legendary Marine fighter pilot whose military successes are almost as many as his personal excesses. Lillian Meecham is a Southern gentlewoman with a love of literature. After moving from base to base each year, the Meecham's finally settle down in fictional
Conroy, Pat.The Lords of Discipline.
Conroy, Pat. The Prince of Tides.
Summary: This is the story of Tom Wingo, his twin sister,
Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War.
Summary: Does Jerry Renault dare to disturb the universe? You wouldn't think that his refusal to sell chocolates during his school's fundraiser would create such a stir, but it does; it's as if the whole school comes apart at the seams. To some, Jerry is a hero, but to others, he becomes a scapegoat--a target for their pent-up hatred. And Jerry? He's just trying to stand up for what he believes, but perhaps there is no way for him to escape becoming a pawn in this game of control; students are pitted against other students, fighting for honor--or are they fighting for their lives?
Courtenay, Bryce, The Power of One.
Summary: The Power of One will take its readers on a journey during the time of apartheid in
Diamant, Anita. The Red Tent.
Summary: The story of Dinah, a tragic character from the Bible whose great love, a prince, is killed by her brother, leaving her alone and pregnant. The novel traces her life from childhood to death, in the process examining sexual and religious practices of the day, and what it meant to be a woman.
Dillard, Annie. An American Childhood.
Summary: Annie Dillard remembers. She remembers the exhilaration of whipping a snowball at a car and having it hit straight on. She remembers playing with the skin on her mother's knuckles, which "didn't snap back; it lay dead across her knuckle in a yellowish ridge." She remembers the compulsion to spend a whole afternoon (or many whole afternoons) endlessly pitching a ball at a target. In this intoxicating account of her childhood, Dillard climbs back inside her 5-, 10-, and 15-year-old selves with apparent effortlessness. The voracious young Dillard embraces headlong one fascination after another--from drawing to rocks and bugs to the French symbolists. "Everywhere, things snagged me," she writes. "The visible world turned me curious to books; the books propelled me reeling back to the world." From her parents she inherited a love of language--her mother's speech was "an endlessly interesting, swerving path"--and the understanding that "you do what you do out of your private passion for the thing itself," not for anyone else's approval or desire. And one would be mistaken to call the energy Dillard exhibits in An American Childhood merely youthful; "still I break up through the skin of awareness a thousand times a day," she writes, "as dolphins burst through seas, and dive again, and rise, and dive."
Dorris, Michael. A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.
Summary: Rayona is a typical teenager, dealing with her mixed ethnicity and the usual angst, when her mother takes her away from home and literally dumps her on the side of the road near Aunt Ida's home on the
Doyle, Roddy. Paddy Clarke, ha-ha-ha.
Summary: an Irish lad named Paddy rampages through the streets of Barrytown with a pack of like-minded hooligans, playing cowboys and Indians, etching their names in wet concrete, and setting fires. Roddy Doyle has captured the sensations and speech patterns of preadolescents with consummate skill, and managed to do so without resorting to sentimentality. Paddy Clarke and his friends are not bad boys; they're just a little bit restless. They're always taking sides, bullying each other, and secretly wishing they didn't have to. All they want is for something--anything--to happen.
Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate.
Summary: A culinary romance set in
Findley, Timothy. The Wars.
Summary: Robert Ross is a sensitive young man from
Garc¨ªa M¨¢rquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera.
Summary: In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermino Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs ¡ª yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
Garc¨ªa M¨¢rquez, Gabriel. One hundred years of solitude.
Summary: The rise and fall, birth and death, of the mythical town of
Gibbons, Kaye. Ellen Foster.
Summary: Having suffered abuse and misfortune for much of her life, a young child searches for a better life and finally gets a break in the home of a loving woman with several foster children.
Golden, Arthur. Memoirs of a Geisha.
A fisherman's daughter in 1930s
Goldman, William. The Princess Bride.
Summary: Buttercup, one of the world's twenty most beautiful women, and tomboy lives on a farm with her parents, her horse, and Westley, their farm-boy. Unexpectedly, she falls suddenly, madly, jealously in love with this man she has known all her life. She professes her love to him, and he leaves immediately to
Summary: A Jewish girl's adolescent years on
Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner.
Summary: Traces the unlikely friendship of a wealthy Afghan youth and a servant's son in a tale that spans the final days of
Irving, John. A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Summary: In the summer of 1953, two 11-year-old boys--best friends--are playing in a Little League baseball game in
Keneally, Thomas. Schindler's list.
Summary: Schindler¡¯s List recounts the lives of the flamboyant profiteer and womanizer Schindler; Schindler's long-suffering wife, Emilie; the brutal SS (Nazi secret service) commandant Amon Goeth; Schindler's quietly courageous factory manager, Itzhak Stern; and dozens of other Jews who underwent the horrors of the Nazi machinery. At the center of the story, though, are the actions and ambitions of Schindler, who comes to
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees.
Summary: 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their
King, Laurie R. The Beekeeper's Apprentice.
Summary: Sherlock Holmes & a brilliant 15-year-old girl become a detective duo & match wits with great criminal minds in
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible.
Summary: The drama of a
Kingsolver, Barbara. Animal Dreams.
Summary: Codi Noline, a young woman unsure of her purpose in life, returns to her hometown of
Kingsolver, Barbara. Pigs in Heaven.
Summary: When a six-year-old child named Turtle is the sole witness to a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, she and her adoptive mother Taylor have a moment of celebrity that will change their lives forever. Annawake Fourkiller, a Cherokee activist, claims turtle, who is said to have been wrongly taken from the Cherokee nation. Fear of losing Turtle sends
Summary: The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in
Kogawa, Joy. Obasan.
Summary: As a Japanese Canadian, Naomi is separated from her parents, persecuted and eventually placed in an internment camp ¨C common practice in
Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air.
Summary: A history of
Krakauer, Jon. Into The Wild.
Summary: After graduating from
Laurence, Margaret. The Diviners.
Summary: This is the powerful story of an independent woman who refuses to abandon her search for love. For Morag Gunn, growing up in a small Canadian prairie town is a toughening process ¨C putting distance between herself and a world that wanted no part of her. But in time, the aloneness that had once been forced upon her becomes a precious right ¨C relinquished only in her overwhelming need for love. Again and again, Morag is forced to test her strength against the world ¨C and finally achieves the life she had determined would be hers.
Lee, Chang-rae. A Gesture Life.
Summary: The secret life of a Japanese-American pharmacist in a small town in
Lee, Chang-rae. Native Speaker.
Summary: A clash of ethnic and professional loyalties is the subject of this novel. The protagonist is a Korean-American who works for a private intelligence service and is assigned to spy on a rising Korean-American politician. To blow the whistle on a fellow ethnic would hurt his tribe, on the other hand there is his professional reputation to consider.
Lee, Chang-rae. Aloft.
Summary: Jerry Battle's favorite diversion is to fly his small plane over the neighboring towns and villages. When his daughter and her fianc¨¦ arrive from Oregon to announce their marriage plans, he looks back on his life and faces his disengagement with it-his urge to fly solo-and the people he loves Aloft is an unforgettable portrait, filled with vitality and urgency, of a man who has secured his life's dreams but who must now figure out its meaning.
Le Guin, Ursula K. The left Hand of Darkness.
Summary: Le Guin's Hainish series begins with the assumption that centuries ago humanoids from the planet Hain ventured through the solar system establishing colonies on various planets including Earth. For mysterious reasons these colonies lose all contact and knowledge of each other until the 21st century when an attempt is made to establish a galactic league....
McBride, James. The Color of Water.
Summary: As a boy in
MacDonald, Ann-Marie. Fall On Your Knees.
Summary: The story of a jinxed family, a catalog of rape, incest and death. James Piper abuses his daughter, atones by sending her to
MacLeod, Alistair. No great mischief.
Summary: This extraordinary novel, telling the story of the substantial branch of the MacDonald clan that settled on Cape Breton Island off
McCourt, Frank. Angela's Ashes.
Summary: When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood". So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of
McEwan, Ian. Atonement.
Summary: On the hottest day of the summer of 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister, Cecilia, strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from
Martel, Yann. Life of Pi.
Summary: Martel tells a story both striking and unique, the life story of Piscine Patel. When he was growing up in
Mason, Bobbie Ann. In Country. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.
Summary: Sam resents the effects of the Vietnam War, especially the death of her father and her uncle's suffering from Agent Orange ingestion.
Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir boy. New York: New American Library, 1987.
Summary: Kaffir Boy begins in the predawn of a bitterly cold winter day in 1965 with the five-yearold Johannes Mathabane lying awake, terrified by nightmares. After his father leaves for work and his mother for the community outhouse, he finally falls asleep. Within moments, his nightmare becomes reality when Peri-Urban, the Alexandra Police Squad, makes one of its unannounced raids. His mother slips back into the house, awakens Johannes, and engages him in a quiet but frantic search for her passbook (apartheid regulations require that every black person in South Africa carry a document containing his or her photograph, name, address, tribal origin, work and marital status). Once it is found, she again slips out of the house¡ªthis time in search of a hiding place. Johannes is left alone with full responsibility for his three-year-old sister and one-year-old brother.
Michaels, Anne. Fugitive pieces. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1997.
Summary: A tale of Holocaust survival whose protagonist is Jakob Beer, a Jewish boy in Poland. A Greek scientist who takes him home to his island, where Beer develops an interest in archeology, saves him from death. He describes the way the Nazis manipulated archeology to prove the superiority of the Aryan race.
Momaday, N. Scott. House made of dawn. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Summary: House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, tells the story of a young American Indian named Abel, home from a foreign war and caught between two worlds: one his father's, wedding him to the rhythm of the seasons and the harsh beauty of the land; the other of industrial America, a goading him into a compulsive cycle of dissipation and disgust.
Momaday, N. Scott. The Way to Rainy Mountain. University of New Mexico Press, 1969.
Summary: The author retells the Kiowa myths learned from his grandmother, speculates on the actual history they may symbolize, and describes with infectious nostalgia the Indian life he knew as a child.
Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Knopf, 1987.
Summary: After Paul D. finds his old slave friend Sethe in Ohio and moves in with her and her daughter Denver, a strange girl comes along by the name of "Beloved." Sethe and Denver take her in and then strange things begin to happen. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison's greatest novel, a dazzling achievement, and the most spellbinding reading experience of the decade....
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Plume Book, 1994.
Summary: Eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, an African-American girl in an America whose love for blonde, blue-eyed children can devastate all others, prays for her eyes to turn blue, so that she will be beautiful, people will notice her, and her world will be different. The story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, the tragic heroine of Toni Morrison's haunting first novel, grew out of her memory of a girlhood friend who wanted blue eyes....
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Plume Book, 1987.
Summary: Song of Solomon is based on an African-American folktale about slaves who can fly back to Africa when they choose. Morrison fictionalizes this folktale through the character of Solomon, the great grandfather of the story's protagonist, Milkman Dead. Through his discovery of the story of Solomon and his ability to fly, Milkman learns to take pride in his ancestry and to value his connections to family and community. Song of Solomon won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction in 1977.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
Summary: The Things They Carried depicts the men of Alpha Company: Jimmy Cross, Henry Dobbins, Rat Kiley, Mitchell Sanders, Norman Bowker, Kiowa, and of course, the character Tim O'Brien who has survived his tour in Vietnam to become a father and writer at the age of forty-three. They battle the enemy (or maybe more the idea of the enemy), and occasionally each other....
O'Brien, Tim. In the Lake of the Woods. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.
Summary: John Wade, a senatorial candidate, is accused of participating in a massacre during the Vietnam War. Hounded by the press, he flees with his wife to a cottage and his wife disappears. Did she desert him, or did he kill her?
Ondaatje, Michael. The English Patient. New York: Knopf, 1992.
Summary: Haunting and harrowing, as beautiful as it is disturbing, The English Patient tells the story of the entanglement of four damaged lives in an Italian monastery as World War II ends. The exhausted nurse, Hana; the maimed thief, Caravaggio; the wary sapper, Kip: each is haunted by the riddle of the English patient, the nameless, burn victim who lies in an upstairs room and whose memories of passion, betrayal, and rescue illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning.
Patchett, Ann. The Patron Saint of Liars. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
Summary: Unanticipated pregnancy makes liars out of young women, this thoughtful first novel shows, as they try to rationalize, explain, and accept what is happening to them. When she arrives at St. Elizabeth's, a home for pregnant girls in Habit, Kentucky, Rose Clinton seems as evasive and deceptive as the other unwed mothers. But Rose is different: she has a husband whom she has deserted. Unlike most St. Elizabeth's visitors, she neither gives up her baby nor leaves the home, staying on as cook while her daughter grows up among expectant mothers fantasizing that they, too, might keep their infants. The reader learns from Rose how she came to St. Elizabeth's, but it is her doting husband and rebellious daughter who reveal her motives and helpless need for freedom. Together, the three create a complex character study of a woman driven by forces she can neither understand nor control.
Potok, Chaim. The Chosen. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.
Summary: Two Jewish boys growing to manhood in Brooklyn discover that differences can strengthen friendship and understanding.
Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. New York: Norton, 1992.
Summary: A young female landowner in 1840s Jamaica marries a just-arrived Englishman to avoid losing her property. All seems to be perfect, love arises, and happiness is on the way, but she is hiding an old secret regarding her childhood and her mother. Slowly, this secret begins to erode this perfect relationship and, perhaps, her mother's story will begin again...with her.
Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. New York: Random House, 1997.
Summary: The story of an Indian family during the 1969 Communist disturbances in Kerala province. It is told through the eyes of a boy and his sister who are the children of a rich rubber planter. Politics, family drama, illicit love.
Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.
Summary: This is the tale of family, memory, love, and living told by 14-year-old Susie Salmon, who is already in heaven. Through the voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and builds out of her family's grief a hopeful and joyful story.
Shields, Carol. The Stone Diaries. New York: Viking, 1994.
Summary: This is the fictionalized autobiography of Daisy Goodwill Flett. After a youth marked by sudden death and loss, Daisy escapes into conventionality as a middle-class wife and mother. Years later she becomes a successful garden columnist and experiences the kind of awakening that thousands of her contemporaries in mid-century yearned for but missed in alcoholism, marital infidelity and bridge clubs. The events of Daisy's life, however, are less compelling than her rich, vividly described inner life--from her memories of her adoptive mother to her awareness of impending death.
Silko, Leslie. Ceremony. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.
Summary: This story, set on an Indian reservation just after World War II, concerns the return home of a war-weary Navaho young man. Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation....
Tan, Amy. The Joy Luck Club. New York: Putnam's, 1989.
Summary: In 1949, four Chinese women--drawn together by the shadow of their past--begin meeting in San Francisco to play mah jong, invest in stocks and "say" stories. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club--and forget a relationship that binds them for more than three decades.
Tan, Amy. The Kitchen God's Wife. New York: Putnam's, 1989.
Summary: The mesmerizing story a Chinese ¨¦migr¨¦ mother tells her daughter.
Urquhart, Jane. Away. New York: Viking, 1994.
Summary: An Irish family escapes the potato famine by immigrating to Canada. The novel traces its contribution to the culture of its adopted land--from Irish sense of humor to Irish idealism--the latter leading one of its members to engage in political assassination.
Urquhart, Jane. The Stone Carvers. New York: Viking, 1994.
Summary: Klara Becker is the granddaughter of a woodcarver in German-settled southern Ontario. She has a love affair with a brooding, silent Irish lad who then goes off to fight, and die, in World War I. Meanwhile her older brother Tilman has literally snapped the ties that would have chained him to the family home, and vanished. Of course, as in all great romantic epics, the two are destined to meet again.
Waugh, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited. Boston: Little, Brown, 1945.
Summary: During World War II, Charles Ryder is stationed near the dilapidated Brideshead, the former home of Lord and Lady Marchmain and their broken family, the Flytes. Much of Charles's life, from his days at Oxford through the end of his first marriage, was closely interwoven with that of the Flytes. Revisiting Brideshead leads him to recall that strange weaving, beginning with his questionably homosexual relationship with the young Sebastian Flyte through his extramarital affair with the Flytes' eldest daughter, Julia. These memories span the end of an era, as Lady Marchmain loses the property for financial reasons, and the venerable Flyte family splinters and falls apart; but they are just about Charles's spiritual awakening.
Waugh, Evelyn. A Handful of Dust. Boston: Little, Brown, 1977.
Summary: After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last is bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set.
Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.
Summary: Set in the period between the world wars, this novel tells of two sisters, their trials, and their survival.
Watson, Larry. Montana 1948. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 1993.
Summary: This is the retrospective tale of a childhood event told by the protagonist 40 years later. Family relationships and bonds in conflict with professional and community obligations vie with the shadow of racism and sexual abuse in the doctor/patient relationship for the core tensions in the book. The setting is a small rural community where the pioneer family about which the tale evolves controls the law and the medicine. The boy narrator relates his view of the breakdown of family as its secret--a physician uncle who is suspected of sexually abusing his native-American women patients--becomes a force that demands action from the doctor's brother who serves as the sheriff.
Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson. New York: Plume, 1990.
Summary: August Wilson has already given the American theater such spell-binding plays about the black experience in 20th-century America as Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning, Fences. In his second Pulitzer Prize-winner, The Piano Lesson, Wilson has fashioned his most haunting and dramatic work yet. At the heart of the play stands the ornately carved upright piano, which, as the Charles family's prized, hard-won possession, has been gathering dust in the parlor of Berniece Charles's Pittsburgh home....
Wilson, August. Joe Turner's Come and Gone. New York: New American Library, 1988.
Summary: Set in a Pittsburgh boardinghouse in 1911, the play examines African Americans¡¯ search for their cultural identity, following the repression of American slavery. For Herald Loomis, this search involves the physical migration from the South to Pittsburgh in an attempt to find his wife. Pittsburgh was one of the many urban areas in the North that other blacks migrated to in the 1910s, in an effort to flee the discrimination they faced in the South, while attempting to find financial success in the North. Herald¡¯s search for his identity, represented as his song, is unsuccessful until he has embraced the pain of both his own past and the past of his ancestors, and moved on to self-sufficiency.
Wilson, Ethel. Swamp Angel. New York: Harper, 1954.
Summary: Walking out on a demoralizing second marriage, Maggie Lloyd leaves Vancouver to work at a fishing lodge in the interior of British Columbia. But the serenity of Maggie¡¯s new surroundings is soon disturbed by the irrational jealousy of the lodge-keeper¡¯s wife. Restoring her own broken spirit, Maggie must also become a healer to others. In this, she is supported by her eccentric friend, Nell Severance, whose pearl-handled revolver ¨C the Swamp Angel ¨C becomes Maggie¡¯s ambiguous talisman and the novel¡¯s symbolic core.