Winner of the Ferris Grumley Award and the Lambda
Literary Award for New Fiction
Midwest Book Review
Heris the story of Black men and women who camenorth in the 50s and 60s to Detroit for jobs andopportunities denied them in the south. It's a storyabout John R. Street, the Harlem of Detroit, wherethese men and women spent their nights trying toforget their dayson the assembly lines of Motor City.Her is a rowdy, irreverent novel exploring a myriad ofrelationships between Black omen (mother anddaughter, mother and daughter-in-law, lesbians, Blackand "hi-yellah") that together depict the struggle ofBlack women: how they hold each other up andsometimes let each other down. And how their very lives teach each other survival.Heris a technically flawless, robust novel written with passion and a keen observation of the human condition by an author ofboth talent and insight. The characters are asmemorable as their stories -- and their stories aretimeless. -
From 500 Great Books by Women; review by
"Houses collect things: old newspapers, junk mail -Her. She had come under cover of night, a stowawaywith Brother's child tucked in the bottom of her belly.He had stuck his Alabama dirt farmer finger in her Dee-troit urban-ghetto Ford Motor Company hi-yellah holeand she had went from somewhere to nowhere,somehow." From the opening sentence,Heris a novelwhose words refuse to be constrained by theboundaries of its pages. Like jazz that reaches out toboth heart and gut, it is deep, throaty and rich; itslanguage and characters wail, leap, glide and moan asCherry Muhanji describes Detroit in the late 1950s andin particular a place called John R. Street. During theday John R. is filled with black women on their way toclean white women's houses and black men going tothe factory where "The metal would roll out as they'picked' their way through the field of Henry Ford's newinvention - the assembly line." At night, the neon lightscome on and John R. is "the strip" - full of nightclubs,pimps, hookers, female impersonators, and cruisingjohns. Whether day or night, John R. Street and itsinhabitants are painfully, angrily, vibrantly alive, fighting a world that prefers light skin over dark, heterosexuality over homosexuality, money over spirit. From a central core of strong women characters,Cherry Muhanji experiments and elaborates, playingvariations, solos, and combinations up and down theregister. Her creation is both eye-opening andsensual.