introducing readers to writers since 1995

December 02, 2004

Mary Sharratt's Holiday Gift Suggestion

by Ron Hogan

marysharratt.gifMinneapolis native Mary Sharratt has spent more than a decade living in Europe, and is currently an active part of the literary community in Manchester, England, but her novels have been firmly rooted in the history of her homeland. The Real Minerva is a story about three women's lives coming together in a small town in the 1920s that Sandra Gulland calls "an amazing novel: mythic and mysterious, sensual and compelling, deliciously suspenseful." When The Vanishing Point comes out next year, though, it'll offer an interesting change of pace; the forthcoming literary thriller is set in colonial Virginia.

First published in 1937, Zora Neale Hurston's classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is the work of a visionary far ahead of her time. It is a sad irony that Hurston's fellow black intellectuals, Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, panned the book for its use of dialect and for the fact that it did not explicitly criticize racist society. Instead of  polemic, Hurston offers an intensely lyrical Bildungsroman and an unforgettable heroine who sets off to become her own person, no matter what it might cost her. A young girl in rural Florida, Janie Crawford's dream for her future is symbolized by a blossoming pear tree, a vision she must fight to hold on to when harsh realities intrude. Her quest for happiness takes her through three marriages. Only with her third husband does Janie find true love and a transcendence which will sustain her even as this relationship ends in tragedy. The reader is left with a portrait of an indomitable woman who has "done been tuh de horizon and back." 
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