The Unicorn Woman

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Author: Gayl Jones

Category: Fiction & related items

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Virago

ISBN: 9780349016924

RRP: $32.99


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This extraordinary new novel from Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Gayl Jones follows the witty but perplexing army veteran Buddy Ray Guy as he embodies the fate of Black soldiers who return, not to glory, but to their Jim Crow communities.

A cook and tractor repairman, Buddy was known as Budweiser to his army pals because he’s a wise guy. But underneath that surface, he is a true self-educated intellectual and a classic seeker: looking for religion, looking for meaning, looking for love.

His odyssey takes him not only from his hometown of Lexington, Kentucky to Memphis, Tennessee, but back into his own memories, as he recalls his love affairs in post-war France and his encounters with a dazzling array of almost mythical characters: circus barkers, topiary trimmers, landladies who provide shelter and plenty of advice for their all-Black clientele, proto feminists, bigots, and – most unforgettably – the Unicorn Woman herself.

With her inimitable eye for beauty, tragedy and humour, Jones offers a rich, intriguing exploration of the Black imagination in a time and place of frustration, disappointment, and spiritual hope.

Gayl Jones’s work represents a watershed in American literature. From a literary standpoint, her form is impeccable; from a historical standpoint, she stands at the very cutting edge of understanding the modern world, and as a Black woman writer, her truth-telling, filled with beauty, tragedy, humour, and incisiveness, is unmatched. Jones is a writer’s writer, and her influence is found everywhere

A literary giant, and one of my absolute favourite writers

Palmares enfolds the reader in a bygone world, with a glance to our own, and has a great whispering lushness that is both magical and panoramic

No novel about any Black woman could ever be the same after this

A breathtaking novel that stands as one of the most important twentieth century works of African American literature

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