Damballah by John Edgar Wideman, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Damballah

Damballah

by John Edgar Wideman
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

This collection of interrelated stories spans the history of Homewood, a Pittsburgh community founded by a runaway slave. With stunning lyricism, Wideman sings of "dead children in garbage cans, of gospel and basketball, of lost gods and dead fathers" (John Leonard). It is a celebration of people who, in the face of crisis, uphold one another--with grace, courage, and

Overview

This collection of interrelated stories spans the history of Homewood, a Pittsburgh community founded by a runaway slave. With stunning lyricism, Wideman sings of "dead children in garbage cans, of gospel and basketball, of lost gods and dead fathers" (John Leonard). It is a celebration of people who, in the face of crisis, uphold one another--with grace, courage, and dignity.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
This short story collection and novel, respectively, both published in 1981, are the second and third volumes in the author's Homewood trilogy. Damballah contains a dozen stories spanning many years in a Pittsburgh community founded by a runaway slave. Hiding Place shares the same setting.
Sacred Fire
John Edgar Wideman grew up in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, a setting he has used for a number of his award-winning novels and stories. Damballah, Wideman's collection of stories about the fictionalized black community of Homewood, is the first in a trilogy consisting of Damballah, Hiding Place, and Sent for You Yesterday. Somewhat autobiographical, the books are linked by shared characters, events, and locales, like much of Wideman's writing, the stories in Damballah are intense and lyrical examinations of the intense psychological experience of black people in urban America.

The first story, "Orion," is about an African brought to an American plantation who wants to teach "the old ways" to a young slave. Knowing that only in death can he do so, he sets out to get it. "One scream that night. Like a bull when they cut off his maleness. . . . A bull screaming once that night and torches burning in the barn and Master and the men coming out and no Ryan. . . Mistress crying behind a locked door and Master messing with Patty down the quarters.

"Hazel" is the story of a young girl accidentally crippled by her brother and who is now trapped by her mother's good intentions. "When I look at you sitting in that chair... I can't tell you what a trial it is. Then I think. . . there's a whole lot she'll never have to suffer.. .. The lies of men, their nasty hands... having their way, having their babies."

Wideman's writing is powerfully visceral, not tempered with sentiment or poetic prose, which is one reason it is not more widely read than it is. His intelligent and inventive use of language and his concern with the psychological issues that affect African Americans, however, make his work essential. Damballah is pure Wideman, and if you have not yet read him, it is a good place to start.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780380785193
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/01/1981

Meet the Author

John Edgar Wideman won the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1984 for Sent for You Yesterday and in 1990 for Philadelphia Fire. His second memoir, Fatheralong, was a finalist for the National Book Award. His most recent books are Hoop Roots and The Island: Martinique. He teaches at Brown University.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >