How Gloria Naylor Captures Love in The Women of
Tyrese L. Coleman Guests on the Lit Century Podcast
with Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols
Welcome to Lit Century: 100 Years, 100 Books. Combining literary analysis with an in-depth look at historical context, hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols choose one book for each year of the 20th century, and—along with special guests—will take a deep dive into a hundred years of literature.
In this episode, author Tyrese L. Coleman joins hosts Catherine Nichols and Sandra Newman to discuss Gloria Naylor’s book of linked short stories, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), a classic of Black women’s literature.
From the episode:
Tyrese L. Coleman: If there wasn’t so much of this unashamed revealing of what is happening on the page, then I think you would lose the connection that you get between the characters, because there’s so much love between all of these women. Even when they hate one another, there’s still so much love. And I really do feel like Hemingway’s approach is so male, in the sense that it removes emotion by removing those clear-cut, express things that are happening on the page. And that’s not something you’re able to do when you’re writing a story that is about women and their connection with one another and their love for one another.
It reminds me of what Mattie says about the relationship between Lorraine and Theresa. Women have done things for her and loved her back, and she’s done things for women and loved them back, in ways that have never happened with men. And the relationship between Lorraine and Theresa, and that question that’s in the air—what’s the difference between romantic love and friendship love and familial love that these women share amongst one another? I think if it was just bare-bones prose, that love would not be available to be viewed on the page.
Tyrese L. Coleman is the author of How to Sit, a 2019 Pen Open Book Award finalist published with Mason Jar Press in 2018. She’s also the writer of the forthcoming book, Spectacle. Writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor, she is a contributing editor at Split Lip Magazine and occasionally teaches at American University. Her essays and stories have appeared in several publications, including Black Warrior Review, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, and the Kenyon Review and noted in Best American Essays and the Pushcart Anthology. She is an alumni of the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. Find her at tyresecoleman.com or on Twitter @tylachelleco.
Sandra Newman is the author of the novels The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Cake, and The Country of Ice Cream Star, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. She is the author of the memoir Changeling as well as several other nonfiction books. Her work has appeared in Harper’s and Granta, among other publications. She lives in New York City.
Catherine Nichols is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Jezebel and The Seattle Review, among others. She lives in Boston.