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    Thursday, February 12, 2015

    Bricktop's Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars

    Tells the fascinating story of African American women who traveled to France to seek freedom of expression. During the Jazz Age, France became a place where an African American woman could realize personal freedom and creativity, in narrative or in performance, in clay or on canvas, in life and in love. These women were participants in the life of the American expatriate colony, which included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Cole Porter, and they commingled with bohemian avant-garde writers and artists like Picasso, Breton, Colette, and Matisse. Bricktop’s Paris introduces the reader to twenty-five of these women and the city they encountered. Following this nonfiction account, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting provides a fictionalized autobiography of Ada “Bricktop” Smith, which brings the players from the world of nonfiction into a Paris whose elegance masks a thriving underworld. “Bricktop’s Paris vibrantly recreates and reimagines the fascinating world of Jazz Age Paris by placing black women at the center of the story. T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting gives us a valuable new perspective on Ada “Bricktop” Smith, giving her the prominence usually attributed to Josephine Baker. She also provides detailed portraits of other singers, musicians, writers, and artists who left America for the French capital. Written with enthusiasm and insight, Bricktop’s Paris underscores the importance of women to transatlantic black modernity.” — Tyler Stovall, author of Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light “Bricktop’s Paris is a remarkable feat. Sharpley-Whiting’s book is a woman’s story about dreaming and making dreams happen. It is a political story, a story about migration, and re-creation. It is a dazzling account of bold women reshaping their lives as New Women/Modern Women and black women in Europe. A woman’s place is not only viewed in the sphere of domesticity through Sharpley-Whiting’s writing, she also reimagines the complexity of life far away from home and on stage, in the studio, and in the nightclub. She captures their spirit and desires and walks us through this history arm and arm, singing, writing, dancing, and making art. I fell in love with these women as I empathized with their struggles, some of them I knew through other writings but through Sharpley-Whiting I felt as if I knew them intimately as they made their lives count some fifty years after Reconstruction. She restores their voices and their bodies and makes them present for the contemporary reader. Brilliant!” — Deborah Willis, author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting is Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Distinguished Professor of French and African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the coeditor of Black France/France Noire: The History and Politics of Blackness and the translator of a collection of Paulette Nardal’s essays, Beyond Negritude: Essays from Woman in the City, also published by SUNY Press. Bricktop's Paris - T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting

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    Item Reviewed: Bricktop's Paris: African American Women in Paris Between the Two World Wars Rating: 5 Reviewed By: asar tehuti
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