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Paule Marshall and the Voice of Black Immigrant Women

Paule Marshall and the Voice of Black Immigrant Women

(p.159) Chapter 6 Paule Marshall and the Voice of Black Immigrant Women
City of Islands
Tammy L. Brown
University Press of Mississippi

From the 1960s through the present, Barbadian-American novelist Paule Marshall used her work to empower her readers through the depiction of strong, black immigrant women characters in a series of critically acclaimed novels and short stories. Marshall emphasized the unique cadences of Barbadian immigrant women, as a source of personal and political power. The characters in Marshall’s novels and the women in her life deployed fiery speech to challenge racism in America and to remind themselves of the beauty and struggles of the homeland that they had left behind. Marshall is the only central figure in the book who is still alive; her work continues to reveal how the interplay of gender, race, and immigrant cultural identities shape interpersonal relationships today. Her biography is important because it demonstrates how race as a social construct in tension with immigrant cultural identity, gender, and individual personality play out “on the ground”—in real time and in real lives.

Keywords:   Paule Marshall, Brooklyn, Barbados, Fiction, African Diaspora

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