Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50 [NOOK Book]

Overview

Photographer Michael Cunningham (coauthor of Crowns) and author Connie Briscoe, a New York Times bestselling novelist, profile 50 women over the age of 50 who have been remarkably successful--whether in reaching the top of the corporate ladder, finding fame in politics or the arts, or raising a son to be proud of a single mother--and reveal the ways that they have prevailed despite daunting obstacles. Their stories are paired with Cunningham's ...
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Jewels: 50 Phenomenal Black Women Over 50

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Overview

Photographer Michael Cunningham (coauthor of Crowns) and author Connie Briscoe, a New York Times bestselling novelist, profile 50 women over the age of 50 who have been remarkably successful--whether in reaching the top of the corporate ladder, finding fame in politics or the arts, or raising a son to be proud of a single mother--and reveal the ways that they have prevailed despite daunting obstacles. Their stories are paired with Cunningham's intimate portraits of the women.
JEWELS includes well-known and little-known women alike, from teachers and executives to artists, authors, and entertainers. Among the celebrities profiled in the book are Ruby Dee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Marion Wright Edelman. Coauthor Connie Briscoe also appears here as one of the featured Jewels, telling her inspiring personal story. World-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator Nikki Giovanni contributes an original poem to the book.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Photographer Cunningham (Crowns) and popular novelist Briscoe (Big Girls Don't Cry, etc.) honor 50 women, more than half over 60, in this collection of stunning photographs and inspiring personal recollections. While a few have officially retired, none of these women can be described as retiring. "I'm having a wonderful time being exactly who I am at the age that I am," says one, reflecting the general sentiments of this diverse group, which includes a financial consultant, reading specialist, sign language interpreter, tax lawyer, real estate broker and a bookstore owner (Clara Villarosa). Some are familiar (e.g., Ruby Dee, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Nikki Giovanni, S. Epatha Merkerson), but most are not. Several are involved with powerful institutions little known outside the black community—sororities, women's clubs and service organizations. Tucked into their succinct narratives is a surprising abundance of practical advice about maneuvering between the worlds they have survived and mastered (corporate, military, entertainment, government, entrepreneurial). Some recall hard knocks, having faced deaths, depression and divorce, cancer, a child with Down syndrome and teenaged pregnancy, but all acknowledge the helping hands of parents, grandparents, teachers and mentors. This book will have special resonance for black women, but offers its inspirational message to all. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316075701
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 5/30/2009
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham was the photographer for Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats. His work has been featured in the New York Times and Ebony, among other publications. Connie Briscoe is a New York Times bestselling author of five novels: Big Girls Don't Cry, Sisters and Lovers, A Long Way from Home, P.G. County, and Can't Get Enough. Her work generally focuses on the strength of black women.

Biography

By the time he finished Virginia Woolf's classic Mrs. Dalloway at the age of fifteen to impress a crush who tauntingly suggested he "try and be less stupid" and do so, Michael Cunningham knew that he was destined to become a writer. While his debut novel wouldn't come until decades later, he would win the Pulitzer for Fiction with his third -- fittingly, an homage to the very book that launched both his love of literature and his life's work.

After growing up Cincinnati, Ohio, Cunningham fled to the west coast to study literature at Stanford University, but later returned to the heartland, where he received his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1980. A writer recognized early on for his promising talent, Cunningham was awarded several grants toward his work, including a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa in 1982, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1988.

In 1984, Cunningham's debut novel, Golden States, was published. While generally well-received by the critics, the book -- a narrative chronicling a few weeks in the life of a 12-year-old-boy -- is often dismissed by Cunningham. In an interview with Other Voices, he explains: "I'm so much more interested in some kind of grand ambitious failure than I am in someone's modest little success that achieves its modest little aims. I felt that I had written a book like that, and I wasn't happy about it. My publisher very generously allowed me to turn down a paperback offer and it has really gone away."

With a new decade came Cunningham's stirring novel, A Home at the End of the World, in 1990. The story of a heartbreakingly lopsided love triangle between two gay men and their mutual female friend, the novel was a groundbreaking take on the ‘90s phenomenon of the nontraditional family. While not exactly released with fanfare, the work drew impressive reviews that instantly recognized Cunningham's gift for using language to define his characters' voices and outline their motives. David Kaufman of The Nation noted Cunningham's "exquisite way with words and ...his uncanny felicity in conveying both his characters and their story," and remarked that "this is quite simply one of those rare novel imbued with graceful insights on every page."

The critical acclaim of A Home at the End of the World no doubt helped Cunningham win the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 -- and two years later, his domestic epic Flesh and Blood was released. Chronicling the dysfunctional Stassos family from their suburban present back through to the parents' roots and looking toward the children's uncertain futures, the sprawling saga was praised for its complexity and heart. The New York Times Book Review noted that "Mr. Cunningham gets all the little things right.... Mr. Cunningham gets the big stuff right, too. For the heart of the story lies not in the nostalgic references but in the complex relationships between parents and children, between siblings, friends and lovers."

While the new decade ushered in his impressive debut, the close of the decade brought with it Cunningham's inarguable opus, The Hours (1998). A tribute to that seminal work that was the author's first inspiration -- Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway -- the book reworks the events and ideas of the classic and sets them alternately in 1980s Greenwich Village, 1940s Los Angeles, and Woolf's London. Of Cunningham's ambitious project, USA Today raved, "The Hours is that rare combination: a smashing literary tour-de-force and an utterly invigorating reading experience. If this book does not make you jump up from the sofa, looking at life and literature in new ways, check to see if you have a pulse." The Hours won both the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and was adapted into a major motion picture starring the powerhouse trio of Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman in December 2002.

To come down from the frenetic success of The Hours, Cunningham took on a quieter project, 2002's tribute/travelogue Land's End: A Walk Through Provincetown. The first installment in Crown's new "Crown Journeys" series, the book is a loving tour through the eccentric little town at the tip of Cape Cod beloved by so many artists and authors, Cunningham included. A haven for literary legends from Eugene O'Neill to Norman Mailer, Cunningham is -- rightfully -- at home there.

Good To Know

Cunningham's debut novel, Golden States, can be hard to find; check out our Used & Out of Print Store to find a copy!

Cunningham's short story "White Angel" was chosen for Best American Short Stories 1989 -- the year before his acclaimed novel A Home at the End of the World was published.

When asked by Barnes & Noble.com about any other names he goes by, Cunningham's list included the monikers Bree Daniels, Mickey Fingers, Jethro, Old Yeller, Gaucho, Cowboy Ed, Tim-Bob, Mister Lies, Erin The Red, Miss Kitty, and Squeegee.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 6, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cincinnati, Ohio
    1. Education:
      B.A., Stanford University, 1975; M.F.A., University of Iowa, 1980
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Jewels


By Michael Cunningham Connie Briscoe

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2007 Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-11304-5


Preface

When Michael Cunningham and I first came up with the idea of featuring black women age fifty and older in a photo-essay book, we both knew immediately that this was long overdue. I naturally thought of my mother and grandmothers, three women who defied enormous obstacles during a time when racism and sexism were anything but subtle and carved out rich lives of service, hard work, and dedication to their families, often without recognition or reward. My mother opted out of being featured in Jewels, but she is here with me in spirit, along with many other deserving women. Reluctantly, I myself agreed to be featured in these pages when friends pointed out that I fit the profile and had a story worth telling. Perhaps in revealing a bit about myself I can soften the line that usually separates an author from her subjects.

Michael and I decided to include celebrities and noncelebrities, and thus we have women here who successfully reared children as single mothers as well as women who fought tire-lessly for justice and opportunity in our schools, communities, and theaters. These are fierce, gutsy women who bucked the odds during especially trying times, and I feel honored that they've allowed me to help them tell their stories. I was also excited about the opportunity to work with Michael, who is an amazingphotographer. We interviewed and photographed the women in Jewels over the course of nearly a year and a half, between the spring of 2005 and the summer of 2006. The age given with each profile is the age at the time of the interview.

As I began talking to the women, a few things stood out immediately. First, they give a lot of credit to their upbringing for making them who they are. Whether raised by a single mother or father, both parents, grandparents, or someone else, they found a loving, stable home with someone who taught them to aim for the stars. Second, although many incidents of racism, sexism, and discrimination are described throughout the pages of this book-some of them blatant and others more subtle-the women never viewed the incidents as insurmountable. Whether fifty or eighty, on the stage or in the boardroom, whether for themselves, their children, or for the world, these women seized opportunities when they were available and created them when they weren't. They are all thoroughly modern women who have taken the promise of America and made it a reality for themselves and others.

Could it be that we've come far enough that black women can be lawyers, doctors, businesswomen, performers, artists, and mothers first, without race, gender, or handicap intruding constantly upon our progress? Whether or not you believe that to be true, there can be little doubt these women and countless others like them have made it much more likely for our children and grandchildren. -Connie Briscoe

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Jewels by Michael Cunningham Connie Briscoe Copyright © 2007 by Michael Cunningham and Connie Briscoe. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2008

    INHALE , ABSORB, AND THEN TREASURE

    This is such a breath taking book of 5O African-American Women that has such a positive influence on it readers. It lifts, enlightens, and educates one to the strength to survive,to succeed. This book should be read by every woman,and man and should be passed on to our teenage daughters regardless of race or creed. Thank you Connie Briscoe for capturing the charisma of these women and Michael Cunningham for capturing their extrodinary beauty

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