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The Salt Eaters Paperback – June 30, 1992

3.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Set in Claybourne, a small town somewhere in the South, THE SALT EATERS is the story of a community of black faith healers who, searching for the healing properties of salt, witness an event that will change their lives forever.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (June 30, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679740767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679740766
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Salt Eaters" by Toni Cade Bambara is definitely not a book for those who are faint at heart. This book is filled with unexpected twists and seemingly extraneous information, and may seem quite confusing at times. There were times when I contemplated not finishing the book, thinking that I was too lost in the thick of the plot to truely garner any meaning. I later realized that the beauty of this classic comes at the end, upon the realization that you were never lost - it was the characters who were lost, they were just bringing you along for the ride. It is much like an excursion through a dense jungle, filled with possible pitfalls and dangerous twists and turns that leads one to emerge upon a beautiful beach, just in time for the sunset.
The possible confusion that one might encounter on a first read through this book is due in part to the fact that it is largely written in the style of an epic poem, rather than in the "traditional" form of a novel. Many of the books subtleties and gems can be discovered upon subsequent readings of the book. As this is my first book by Bambara, I am somewhat unfamiliar with Bambara's usual style - if it can be said that she has one at all - but my experiences with "The Salt Eaters" draws me to dig deeper into her repertoire and learn to appreciate her mastery for her craft.
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By A Customer on August 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
You need to be aquipped to enter the world of Toni Cade Bambara. I discovered Bambara because her name was often associated with that of Toni Morrison.Bambara is a strong writer, with strong convinctions, and with a militant kind of writing. What she teaches us in this novel is that everything is organized in a network, that everything goes together. More importantly perhaps, she teaches us that freedom is a matter of choice and that it always carries reponsibilities: do you want to be free and what do you want to do with your freedom? This is the question that the novel underscores, the question to which the characters need to find an answer. You come out of "The salt Eaters" full with questions about your place in the universe and what you want in your life. Bambara does not merely depicts a world of victims, of brutalization, alienation and dehumanization. At the center of the novel is the message that you can do something to better the world you live in if only you choose to be well and take responsibility for what it entails. Bambara also makes clear that though everything's in a network, the individual still has the power to take action that may change not only himself and his community but the world at large. For sure, we may question this somewhat idealistic and utopian vision, but is literature anything else but a big utopia?
Some readers may be beffudled at Bambara syntax and vocabulary (and yes this is hard to decode), but once you get beyond that you're just disappointed that Bambara did not write many novels: you're in the presence of a great artist, that is someone that has a style, a vision, and a message.
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Format: Paperback
This book is best read straight through in one or two sittings. The main action of the story, Velma Henry's healing, takes place in a matter of minutes but requires the entire book to extend through the minds past, present, and future of multiple characters--onlookers and passersby. Each scene requires subsequent scenes to unpack, unfold, and explain it. Toni Cade Bambara has ensured that the attentive reader will be richly rewarded for waiting and wondering. Even the smallest details--a baby bird fallen from its nest--are presented so luminously that when they are revisited pages later they are instantly recognizable. These continual moments of recognition knit together a novel that otherwise might stretch to bursting the limits of time, place, character, and spirit.
This wise novel cares deeply about healing on political, environmental, and personal levels. Salt, the title image, serves as an antidote to poison but embitters a body; it runs through the neck of an hourglass as a moment in time becomes crucial.
In this moment in time, to drumbeats and the strains of popular music, we meet a group of healers, a spirit guide, a bus driver, the doctors at a free clinic, a paperboy, winos, sisters, lovers, all kinds of mothers, tourists, thugs, transvestites, elders, animals--all of them teach us something about the soul of one strong woman broken under the weight of her passion for justice.
Are there weapons stockpiled at the Academy? Is the nuclear power plant slowly killing its employees? What will happen tonight at the carnival? These questions pale beside the central question: Will yesterday's struggle yield fruit tomorrow? Is there hope?
-K. Beachy
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A confusing book, kinda "stream of consciousness" writing, but interesting. The description on the back of the book is misleading, it's not really about healers who use salt for healing. Not sure if events happen, are in alternative timelines, or what.
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Format: Kindle Edition
When I was assigned this book for one of my classes, the professor informed us that it was one of the most challenging books in contemporary Literature. She herself had to read it nine times to truly understand it.

With that said, this is the first book I ever read that as soon as I finished I immediately wanted to start over and experience it all over again. While the plot takes place over the course of 20 minutes, it takes the reader from this world to the next one through the eyes of many characters both spiritual and physical.

It centers around the spiritual healing of Velma Henry, who has attempted suicide. Through flashbacks to her earlier life, those of her fellow community member,s and conversations between spirits and people with tons of references to cosmology, mythology, and the Bible this story showcases the brokenness of the black community post-Civil Rights. Tiny threads of plot slowly weave themselves together under at the end you feel like you are completely entrenched in a whirlwind of magic and political frustration which ultimately culminates in Velma's spiritual transformation that brings together her fragmented community into a whole entity rooted in Afrocentric thought.

Not a book for everyone, and it's certainly hard to read without having the assistance of a classroom setting and academic criticism, but GOD DAMN was I moved.
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