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Some Sing, Some Cry

A Novel

Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza

St. Martin's Press

Groundbreaking and heartbreaking, this triumphant novel by two of America’s most acclaimed storytellers follows a family of women from enslavement to the dawn of the twenty-first century.From Reconstruction to both world wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam, from spirituals and arias to torch songs and the blues, Some Sing, Some Cry brings to life the monumental story of one American family's journey from slavery into freedom, from country into city, from the past to the future, bright and blazing ahead. Real-life sisters, Ntozake Shange, award-winning author of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf and Ifa Bayeza, award-winning playwright of The Ballad of Emmett Till, achieve nothing less than a modern classic in this story of seven generations of women, and the men and music in their lives. Opening dramatically at a sprawling plantation just off the South Carolina coast, recently emancipated slave Bette Mayfield quickly says her goodbyes before fleeing for Charleston with her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow. She and Eudora carve out lives for themselves in the bustling port city as seamstress and fortune-teller. Eudora marries, the Mayfield lines grows and becomes an incredibly strong, musically gifted family, a family that is led, protected, and inspired by its women. Some Sing, Some Cry chronicles their astonishing passage through the watershed events of American history.  

BOOK EXCERPTS

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SOME SING, SOME CRY Chapter 1

The first orange light of sunrise left a flush of rose and lavender on Betty’s hands as she fingered the likenesses of her children. There were tears she was holding back and cocks crowing, as well as her granddaughter’s shouts, “Nana, you ready?” Betty sighed and closed the album reluctantly. Time had come for the last of the Mayfields to leave Sweet Tamarind, the plantation they’d known as home for generations. Talk was some carpetbaggers had bought all the land and paid the white Mayfields a smidgeon of what it was worth and

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REVIEWS

Praise for Some Sing, Some Cry

"Lyrical... Think of it as Roots with a treble clef—a confident, lively account of love, art and what falls between."

--Kirkus Reviews 

"Vibrant... Some Sing, Some Cry is Shange and Bayeza at their poetic best."
 
--Essence
 
"Solid gold... Ntozake Shange and her sister, Ifa Bayeza, partner to write a lyrical and epic novel."
 
--Ebony

“Revered poet, playwright, and novelist Shange teams up with her award-winning playwright sister Bayeza in this encompassing historical saga of African American life. In its riveting dramatization of the promise of emancipation, the brutality of the Reconstruction, the baroque cruelty of the Jim Crow era, all the way to the possibilities of the digital age, this bittersweet tale of seven generations in a family of mixed blood and musical genius weaves together essential historical  facts and profound emotional truths. With music as a sustaining force, Shange and Bayeza’s epic of courage, improvisation, and transcendence is glorious in its scope, lyricism, and spectrum of yearnings, convictions, and triumphs.”

–Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred)

“A sweeping African-American saga animating 200 years of history through the voices of seven generations of the Mayfield family's women, beginning with Elizabeth (Ma Bette), a freed slave, and her granddaughter Eudora. Their fate and that of their progeny follows historical events from the Jim Crow South to the civil rights movement with tragedy and triumph. This is a complex poetic treatise on race, culture, love, and family, the use of regional vernacular, dialect, and pure song, resulting in a provocative fictional history.”

Publishers Weekly

“If there are shoulders modern African-American women's literature stands upon they belong to Ntozake Shange who revolutionized theater and literature with her iconic work for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf  in the 1970's. Any of us writing today are inheritors of her genius. Some Sing, Some Cry will show her to be as potent and irrepressible a force as she was thirty years ago.”

--Sapphire, author of Push

“In this epic saga, the sister-sister author combination of Bayeza and Shange offers a richly detailed and boldly colored account of one family’s experience in slavery and its legacies for the generations that followed. Some Sing, Some Cry is both moving and arresting.”

–Annette Gordon-Reed, author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

 

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza

  • NTOZAKE SHANGE is a renowned playwright, poet, and novelist. Her works include the Obie Award-winning for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, Betsey Brown, Liliane and Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo. Among her honors and awards are fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace--Reader's Digest Fund and a Pushcart Prize. A graduate of Barnard and recipient of a master’s degree in American Studies from University of Southern California, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    IFA BAYEZA is an award-winning playwright, producer, and conceptual theater artist. Her works for the stage include Amistad Voices, Club Harlem, Kid Zero, Homer G & the Rhapsodies, and The Ballad of Emmett Till, winner of the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Play and a 2007 Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference fellowship. A graduate of Harvard University, Bayeza is a board member of the SonEdna Literary Foundation. She lives in Chicago.

  • Ntozake Shange
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Available Formats and Book Details

Some Sing, Some Cry

A Novel

Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

St. Martin's Press

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