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Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter Hardcover – November, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Like her first two novels (Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo; Betsey Brown), Shange's third offers insightful portraits of several young black women, most notably of Liliane, a visual artist. The book's narrative structure, which intersperses vivid prose-poetry with terse dramatic dialogue, is complex, challenging-and sometimes difficult to navigate. Monologues by more than a half-dozen voices collide in cacophany nearly as often as they blend in harmony, and the transcript-like conversations between Liliane and her psychoanalyst are difficult to follow because they're presented with minimal regard to speaker identification. These dialogues reveal Liliane's strong discomfort with racial issues (like Shange, she was raised in an upper-middle class household) and her seismic fury at her mother, whose disappearance when Liliane was a child, it turns out, was due not to her untimely death but to her running off with a white man. Meanwhile, Liliane's voice, as well as those of her friends and lovers, interrupts the psychoanalytic sessions to comment on Liliane's volatile behavior-her propensity to be drawn in many directions as she seeks to assimilate with cultures domestic and foreign, black and white, rich and poor. (Liliane wants to learn "every language, slave language, any black person in the Western Hemisphere ever spoke," remarks Victor-Jesus Maria, one of her lovers: "She had to believe there was a way of talking herself out of 500 years of disdain.") In her apparent determination to make Liliane lovable and universal ("We were all blessed," comments one character, "to have the privilege to love her... anybody's colored child, anybody's daughter"), Shange emphasizes her heroine's most appealing qualities: independence, sensuality, intelligence. Still, Liliane remains marvelously complex, a chameleon at once archetypal and idiosyncratic, a woman whose weighty grapplings with the psychic and social forces that both drive and sunder her are leavened with a wicked sense of humor: "I'm not going to come out of my house," she promises at one point, "until there are some hip black people in outer space." 85,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Exotic and gritty like its heroine, pretentious and yet painfully real, Shange's third novel (following Betsey Brown, LJ 5/15/85) revels in its counterpoints and surprises. Troubled, alluring artist Liliane moves with grace but carries the baggage of familiar unrest and personal tragedy. Shange reveals her intriguing protagonist through her distinctive choices of lovers and friends, which alternate with conversations between Liliane and her analyst as Liliane searches for her lost mother. Evocations of genteel black Queens, vibrant and dangerous Alphabet City, and moody, sensuous Morocco provide a vivid backdrop for episodes of sex, storytelling, childhood drama, and adult thirst. Musical, erotic, and scathingly reactive to racial history, this is a natural for admirers of Anais Nin (to whom Shange makes a nod) and of Shange's more celebrated contemporaries Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison. Warmly recommended.
--Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
Liliane is one dysfunctional episode in life after another all the way to the end of the book. The writing alternates between scenes from Liliane's life, being told as a personal account by the main character or another character who witnessed it, and sessions with her therapist whom Liliana is always rude to.
Now it wasn't all that bad. Ntozake also has a style in her writing that is very charming, and she uses it well in Liliane. She offers the reader an expansive list of historical people, places, and things that will entice you to expand your knowledge by getting to know these worthwhile mentions like The Crests, The Shirelles, Bartok and places like Lisbon. Ntozake keeps alive forgotten icons of world culture. This is the best part of the book. Unless you're just on a mission to read all of Ntozake's books you can probably skip Liliane.