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Sugar: A Novel Paperback – January 2, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 721 ratings
Book 1 of 2: Sugar

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Sugar

“Strong and folksy storytelling...think Zora Neale Hurston...Sugar speaks of what is real.”—The Dallas Morning News

“A literary explosion...McFadden reveals amazing talent.”—The Chicago Defender 

“McFadden's debut novel is an earthy slice of life in a small Southern town. When Sugar, a prostitute who never had a chance for love or a normal life, moves into the house next door to Pearl, a matron who lost her spirit after the murder of her daughter 15 years before, the two women form a bond strong enough to withstand even the most vicious gossip. But secrets from both of their pasts may prove too much even for these two compelling women, and Sugar must choose between her dreams for something better and the people she has learned to love. McFadden captures the full character of small-town life and the strengths and weaknesses of its people. This novel of friendship and loss is an excellent addition to the growing body of work by young African American writers.”—Library Journal
 
“With her eponymous anti-heroine, debut novelist McFadden breaks the mold of a venerable stereotype. Here, the hooker with a heart of gold is instead a hooker with a past so tarnished no amount of polishing can change her fate...This ambitious first novel will appeal to readers who can appreciate Sugar's determination to come to terms with her past and fashion a viable future.”—Publishers Weekly
 

From the Author

Q> Tell us about your upbringing in the South. Are elements reflected in the story? Are any of the characters based on people you know?

While I wasn't raised in the South, my mother was. The stories she's shared with me over the years have been so vivid I guess that I've adopted the settings into my own stories. Yes, I think characteristics of people that are close to me have seeped into my characters.

Q> How did your family's tradition of storytelling influence your writing?

A very big influence. The stories shared around the table during a holiday meal were the highlight of the gathering and I so looked forward to hearing them over and over again. I want my stories to have the same effect - stories that people will always want to return to time and time again.

Q> The novel is primarily about Sugar and Pearl, with the male characters taking a back seat to the female characters. And yet the story closes with a scene that has Joe as the focus. Why did you choose not to end the story with either Sugar or Pearl actually in the scene?

Sugar's life was one big circle - every step forward put her closer to where she'd already been so it seemed only right that the story should end with a focus on Joe because he was the father to both Jude and Sugar, completing the circle.

Q> As the mother of a daughter, was it difficult for you to write about Jude's murder? Why did you choose to maximize the horror of Jude's death by having the killer desecrate her body?

Fortunately it was not difficult to put that scene down on paper, although now when I go back to read it, it is a bit unnerving. The desecration was not a conscious choice, but exactly what I saw unfolding before me.

Q> Why did you choose to set the novel in the 1940s and 1950s instead of the present day?

My stories come to me as visions in bits and pieces - and I saw the 40's & 50's.

Q> Sugar and Pearl's friendship forms the basis of the novel. How important are friendships in women's lives?

I take my relationships with women very seriously. I come from a family of women, so my respect for them is quite extraordinary. Friendships between women are sacred because we understand and feel for each other on levels that men are just not equipped to do.

Q> In the beginning of the book there is a quote by Sarah Miles: "There's a little bit of hooker in every woman. A little bit of hooker and a little bit of God." Why did you choose to use this quote? How do you think it relates to the story?

That quote caught the whole essence of Sugar and Pearl. It speaks to the story and the good and not so good we all have inside of us.

Q> This Bitter Earth, the sequel to Sugar, has recently been published. What can you tell us about it?

TBE is Sugar's continuing story, but it's also about a lot of the other characters that had to take a back seat in Sugar. TBE will delve further into Sugar's past as well as explain the effects her prescence and consquent departure in Bigelow had on the Taylor's as well as the town residents.

Q> Are you working on a new novel?

Yes, I'm working on a story that will examine why some people love the way they do and while still others are unable to love at all.

Q>:What writers do you admire? Have any of them influenced your work?

I have great respect and admiration for Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, J. California Cooper and Marita Golden. They have written stories that I return to time and time again for encouragement and guidance whenever I feel I've lost my way in my own stories.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 0.035 ounces
  • Paperback : 256 pages
  • Publisher : Plume (January 2, 2001)
  • Product Dimensions : 5.3 x 0.55 x 8 inches
  • ISBN-10 : 0452282209
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0452282209
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 721 ratings
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