Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Bailey's Cafe

Bailey's Cafe

4.2 9
by Gloria Naylor

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Set in a diner where the food isn't very good and the ambience veers between heaven and hell, this bestselling novel from the author of Mama Day and The Women of Brewster Place is a feast for the senses and the spirit. "A virtuoso orchestration of survival, suffering, courage and humor."—New York Times Book Review.


Set in a diner where the food isn't very good and the ambience veers between heaven and hell, this bestselling novel from the author of Mama Day and The Women of Brewster Place is a feast for the senses and the spirit. "A virtuoso orchestration of survival, suffering, courage and humor."—New York Times Book Review.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Naylor's lyrical novel, a BOMC and QPB selection in cloth, explores the lives of denizens of the eponymous eatery, capturing life in New York in the era following WW II. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Like Naylor's previous works, Mama Day ( LJ 2/15/88), Linden Hills ( LJ 4/15/85), and the award-winning The Women of Brewster Place ( LJ 6/15/82), this novel offers interesting characterizations in familiar settings imbued with mythic qualities. The cafe setting allows a range of characters to tell stories from their lives, each in a unique voice. Bailey's and the nearby boarding house (which some call a bordello) offer respite for those who have been battered in the outside world, and their long-lasting scars shape the book's narrations and interactions. The characterizations, distinctly and believably drawn, are Naylor's most interesting since her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place . Recommended for all contemporary fiction collections.-- Marie F. Jones, Muskingum Coll. Lib., New Concord, Ohio
The Los Angeles Times
"Moving...told in contrasting shades of harsh drama, comic, and magic realism...crackles with passion and wit...Naylor lets consumate free will of real world of arts etch....Brilliantly conceived and flushed is an unforgettable successor to Ellison's metaphor of the Invisible Man, and as incandescent." -- Richard Eder
The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Absorbing, poignant, and wise...Naylor has crafted a heart-rending testament to the human spirit." Cristian Garcia
Kirkus Reviews
Here, Naylor's limbo, peopled by tortured beings "at the hopeless crossroads of [their] lives," is a darkly lyrical, both sad and warming, psychic way-station—an American backstreet cafe with terrible food, no cheering camaraderie, and a door that empties into nowhere—or, even scarier, Somewhere. Bailey (not his real name), who runs the cafe with his tough, silent partner Nadine, offers a few autobiographical "tidbits" and knows he's at the grill for the same reason the cafe's customers come in from everywhere. These are people on the edge who need a space to "take a breather." These are the hurt, the deeply wounded. Even the "one-note players"—like a Bible-shouter and a pimp—"got a life underneath." Then there are the life-crippled victims: the lady Sadie, a decaying prostitute, scoured by cruelty; Sweet Esther, who tends perverts and white roses in the dark; Peaches the nympho; and Jessie the druggie, "robbed" of husband and son. The women live with Eve in her boardinghouse by a garden, where visiting men must buy flowers for entrance. Eve, born of Delta dust, expelled from her home with Godfather (Bible emanations bobble here and there), gives some women a place to stay, is severe, fair, and can create hell. Also at Eve's is "Miss Maple," a brilliant young man—an American superachiever, rejected and humiliated because he's black. (Once, he—like some others—steps out the cafe's backdoor into the void, "since the place sits right on the margin between the edge of the world and infinite possibility.") And what could cause the souls in limbo to clap and sing? A richly melodic telling of sad tales—of innocence outraged and civilizationsmothered—and, again, as in Naylor's Mama Day (1988) and Linden Hills (1985), with a satiric glint and a generous dollop of the supernatural, plus the chill of apocalyptic voices.

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage Contemporaries Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

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Bailey's Cafe 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my second read of Bailey's Cafe. The life stories of the characters can move you to tears. If nothing more it makes you remember that everyone has a story. Bailey's is a place we hope that we don't have to find but if we do we can only hope its a way station and not the last stop. 'Cos like Bailey said, 'there's a Bailey's Cafe in every city'. Ms. Naylor is a master at weaving the mythical and the magical with the real. If you like books that leave you thinking, even after you've finished them, try this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm half way through the book. I love her characters. Gloria's depth of style is awesome...hauntingly weird. I think she must have read Paradise by Toni Morrisen.... reminds me of a greater depth of characters who may have inahbited, (or should have) 'The Convent'
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a host of characters! This book is more like a collection of short stories all brought together in Bailey's Cafe. The themes involve racism, judgement, and religion which are heavy. However, the author puts enough humor in this book to make it a wonderful and sometimes disturbing read. If you don't read it for any other reason, the character of Miss Maple is a roll on the floor laugher!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I so enjoyed 'The Women of Brewster Place', that I just picked this up just because I thought it would be light & interesting. I was moved to tears as I recognized the connections to childhood tramas and how they show up in the adult. This is outstanding - for anyone - gives such incite and understanding. If you are close to any of these experiences, you will cry for what was lost. If this is not your experience, you may finally 'get it' and not be so quick to criticize what you don't understand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have long been a fan of Gloria Naylor, but this is the best one she has ever written. While most of us have not experienced the exact pain of the characters in this novel, we all need a 'Bailey's Cafe'' in our lives at some point
Guest More than 1 year ago
The lives of all the characters are startling. unique, interesting but Miss Maples' is my favorite. The scene where he & his father kicked butt in the back room of a country store wearing tutu's is 'rolling on the floor' hilarious! A very creative way to resolve the gut-wrenching tension of a horrible situation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
BAILEY'S CAFE would have been better if the characters and situations had not been described to death! The people that frequently this establishment were interesting enough, but when they are described to the last atom, then it takes away from the book and it becomes lackluster. This was almost like reading a Stephen King novel, except the monster was not in the book, but in READING the book. Not my cup of tea.