Praise for Between Heaven and Here
"A national artistic treasure."
The Boston Globe
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Unflinchingly real and transcendently beautiful."
"As rich and tragic as any Shakespearean tale."
Praise for A Million Nightingales
"Radiant . . . Unforgettable, a classic haunting story of love, tragedy and perseverance."
"Moving . . . Lush passages drip like Spanish moss from Straight's prose . . . [She] writes with nuance and insinuating grace."
The Seattle Times
"Intelligent and heartbreaking . . . Celebrates the individual's power to create a personal freedom within the most rigid social order."
"From the first beautiful sentence, I felt transported to a world as vivid as the one outside my window. Moinette is one of those rare characters who enlarges both our sense of history and our humanity."
Judith Freeman, author of Red Water
"A story about triumph over adversity, but it's also one that understands the distinction between magnanimous kindness and its far less showy cousin, basic human decency."
Los Angeles Times
"An extraordinary achievement, fascinating, horrifying, disturbing, a tribute to the power of the human spirit. It lingers in the mind, unfading, haunting."
Shirley Ann Grau, author of The Keepers of the House
"Powerful and moving . . . Written in language so beautiful you can almost believe the words themselves are capable of salving history's wounds."
The New York Times Book Review
"An amazing novel. No cultural historian has more accurately revealed the laws, customs, beliefs, and language of antebellum Louisiana. No other novelist has used cultural realities to motivate characters that seem more real, to tell a story that is more affecting. While Moinette's story could have happened only in that place and time, Straight has not only made it feel real there and then but has also made it connect with here and now."
David Bradley, author of The Chaneysville Incident
"Audacious . . . The great strength of A Million Nightingales is Straight's unsentimental apprehension of the no-win system that was slavery, and the subtle ways it was designed-intelligently designed-to pervert every natural feeling, every impulse of generosity, of community, of familial loyalty."
"In all her novels, Susan Straight has given voice to characters whose struggles for dignity and love have been fought on the twentieth-century battleground of race; with A Million Nightingales she digs even deeper into our common ground. But it is love and humanity, not race, that ultimately gives such a wrenching power to A Million Nightingales a beautiful, redemptive novel."
Kate Moses, author of Wintering
Praise for Highwire Moon
A National Book Award Finalist
"Her gallery of misfits reminds me of one of Flannery O'Connor's-but with a dash of sympathy and human goodness."
The Washington Post Book World
"An eye-opener of a novel, a road map to the real California . . . [Straight] turns headlines into poetry."
The New York Times Book Review
Praise for Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights
"[A] nuanced, unsentimental portrait . . . [The characters] ring remarkably true."
Los Angeles Times
"A writer of exceptional gifts and grace."
Joyce Carol Oates
"Here [Susan Straight] has again reached into the hearts and hurts of her Rio Seco people and walked with sureness and tenderness on the land they inhabit. Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights is a beautifully told, smoldering book that says that survival with dignity shines brighter than the California sun."
Shelby Hearon, Chicago Tribune
"This is a triumph, a portrait of a young black man trying to find his way that ends not in prison, drug dealing, or death, but with small moments of affirmation and the acceptance of responsibility that are a tribute to his will and intelligence. It counters all stereotypes about black men that are prevalent in contemporary writing."
David Nicholson, The Washington Post
"A lyrical and intelligent storyteller, [Susan Straight] burns clean the forbidding barriers of culture and race that blind people to one another."
Praise for I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots
"Straight's portrayal of a black woman's life is nearly miraculous in its astonishing richness of detail, its emotional honesty and its breadth of human thought and feeling."
"Elegant . . . As monumental as the tall, taciturn woman whose life it traces."
"How long has it been since I stayed up until four in the morning to finish reading a book? The self-contained, compelling world presented here, accessible though so very strange, belongs to its unforgettable heroine."
April Bernard, New York Newsday
Praise for Aquaboogie
"The great strength of Aquaboogie , Susan Straight's remarkable first work of fiction, is the way this ‘novel-in-stories' brings to life the rich and vibrant life of an all-black community."
Los Angeles Times Book Review
" Aquaboogie is a love story in fragments . . . A book by a writer whose love for her characters infuses her work with the dignity and urgency they so clearly deserve."
The New York Times Book Review
"Straight has taken the cadence and color of spirited voices, her community's venerable oral tradition, and given it unequivocal form on page."
"Rarely is a black community so precisely, humanly, and searchingly delineated."
"Vividly captures people who know the rhythm of their own lives. They twist and turn to its beats, yet they remain partially submerged, trying not to drown."
The Washington Post
"The dialogue in these stories flows like a river of talk, pulls you along with its rhythms until you're in it; you're the reader, then the listener, then the speaker."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Straight has created an entire world, and her small neighborhood is overgrown and lush with legends-hardly a dry river. A rich collection of stories that demands to be read and reread."
San Francisco Chronicle
Advance Praise for In the Country of Women
"What a beautiful book! In the Country of Women must be the most populated, celebratory, filled-with-life memoir of our time. With her characteristic mix of compassion, warmth, humor, and acerbic insight, Susan Straight writes of her ‘massive black and mixed-race family' and her ‘quirky, deeply embedded white family'-a memoir that is, though addressed to her three daughters, a valentine to virtually everyone whom the renowned author has known in the course of her vividly described life. Unlike most contemporary memoirs, which focus upon singular, self-obsessed individuals, Susan Straight's is about an entire way of life, lived with great verve and passion: ‘a strange California transcendentalism which never fit in with American upward mobility.'" - Joyce Carol Oates
"Susan Straight's In the Country of Women is an American epic about what the United States could be and in fact already is for so many people like those of her extended family. Straight's kin-by blood and by choice-embody the complicated, painful history of this country and its tremendous, hopeful diversity. This is an enriching, inspiring, and moving account of how a writer chose her family and her destiny." - Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer
" In the Country of Women is a masterpiece and a great read-heartfelt and soul-warming. A full life, cleanly, deeply, and beautifully told." - Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
"With stirring details and delving perceptions, Straight chronicles the repercussions, generation after generation, of enslavement, Jim Crow, and immigration, as well as rape, murder, grueling work, and single motherhood, while tracing the journeys of the women in her clan to Canada, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, and, finally, gritty, multicultural Riverside, California, Straight's hometown. As Straight braids her three daughters into this deeply affecting saga, she maps her path to becoming a writer, encouraged by her mentor, James Baldwin, and profoundly inspired by her mother-in-law. Ultimately, this is a ravishing and revelatory celebration of womanhood, resilience, family, community, and America's defining diversity." - Booklist (starred review)
"A moving family saga celebrates generations of bold, brave, and determined women. Award-winning novelist Straight makes her nonfiction debut with an eloquent, absorbing memoir. Addressed to her three adult daughters, the narrative weaves together stories that transcend time, place, race, and ethnicity to vibrantly portray her children's rich ancestry . . . A radiant memoir imbued with palpable love." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
" In the Country of Women is moving, fierce, and gorgeous. In a time of individualistic fragmentation and the tearing of the social fabric, Straight offers the contrary narrative, the essential need for community, its past and future, and celebrates her place in its weaving." - Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander
"A moving memoir. The narrative is framed as a letter to Straight's three daughters-Gaila, Delphine, and Rosette-whom Straight shares with her ex-husband Dwayne Sims, and honors the daughters' rich ancestral past through stories of female relatives struggling to overcome violence, oppression, and hardship . . . Straight passionately illuminates the hard journeys of women." - Publishers Weekly
" In the Country of Women is the astonishingly beautiful story of a life and family history that could only happen in California, just as California is a place (and an idea-of expansion, light, color, a meeting of bloodlines and cultures) that could only happen in America." - Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird