OVERRIDE

The Women

Hilton Als

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A New York Times Notable Book

Daring and fiercely original, The Women is at once a memoir, a psychological study, a sociopolitical manifesto, and an incisive adventure in literary criticism. It is conceived as a series of portraits analyzing the role that sexual and racial identity played in the lives and work of the writer's subjects: his mother, a self-described "Negress," who would not be defined by the limitations of race and gender; the mother of Malcolm X, whose mixed-race background and eventual descent into madness contributed to her son's misogyny and racism; brilliant, Harvard-educated Dorothy Dean, who rarely identified with other blacks or women, but deeply empathized with white gay men; and the late Owen Dodson, a poet and dramatist who was female-identified and who played an important role in the author's own social and intellectual formation.

Hilton Als submits both racial and sexual stereotypes to his inimitable scrutiny with relentless humor and sympathy. The results are exhilarating. The Women is that rarest of books: a memorable work of self-investigation that creates a form of all its own.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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The Women
1Until the end, my mother never discussed her way of being. She avoided explaining the impetus behind her emigration from Barbados to Manhattan. She avoided explaining that she had not been motivated by the same desire for personal gain and opportunity that drove most female immigrants. She avoided recounting the fact that she had emigrated to America to follow the man who eventually became my father, and whom she had known in his previous incarnation as her first and only husband's closest friend. She avoided explaining how she had left her husband--by whom she had two daughters--after
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Women

"Inventive and daring...a fascinating sensibility."--Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

"The Women is a book to read several times, noting how its application grows broader and broader upon consideration. Like all truly original writing, it comes to no conclusions, imposes no creed and sets the reader free to ponder. Writing of people who limited themselves and died of it, Mr. Als has overcome limits...On the strength of his vision, he has managed to enter those 'expansive interior places' his mentor avoided. One hopes that he will just keep going."--Andrea Lee, The New York Times Book Review

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Hilton Als

  • Hilton Als is a staff writer for The New Yorker.
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The Women

Hilton Als

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