Award-winning writer Ntozake Shange and real-life sister, award-winning playwright Ifa Bayeza achieve nothing less than a modern classic in this epic story of the Mayfield family. Opening dramatically at Sweet Tamarind, a rice and cotton plantation on an island off South Carolina's coast, we watch as recently emancipated Bette Mayfield says her goodbyes before fleeing for the mainland. With her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow, she heads to Charleston. There, they carve out lives for themselves as fortune-teller and seamstress. Dora will marry, the Mayfield line will grow, and we will follow them on an journey through the watershed events of America's troubled, vibrant history—from Reconstruction to both World Wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam and the modern day. Shange and Bayeza give us a monumental story of a family and of America, of songs and why we have to sing them, of home and of heartbreak, of the past and of the future, bright and blazing ahead.
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
"Lyrical... Think of it as Roots with a treble clef—a confident, lively account of love, art and what falls between."
“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.”
“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
Ntozake Shange & Ifa Bayeza