3 Gloria Naylor novels to become Virago Modern Classics

Virago will publish three novels by the award-winning American author Gloria Naylor as part of its Modern Classics collection, The Bookseller reports.

The report states that Donna Coonan, editorial director of Virago Modern Classics, acquired UK and British Commonwealth rights for the books from Danielle Bukowski and Jenny Stephens at Sterling Lord Literistic. 

Gloria Naylor (1950-2016) was an African-American novelist whose debut The Women of Brewster Place (Penguin) won the National Book Award and was made into a 1984 film, starring Oprah Winfrey.

Mama Day, first published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will be released in June 2022, followed by Linden Hills in November and Bailey’s Cafe on 23rd March 2023. 

Coonan said: “Gloria Naylor is an essential writer in the American literary canon, but though beloved by many, she hasn’t received the attention or recognition that she deserves. 

“With the exception of her debut, The Women of Brewster Place, her books haven’t been issued in the UK since their first publications. With new introductions by Robert Jones Jr and Irenosen Okojie, we are aiming for a long-overdue reappraisal of her work. Her novels are immersive, multi-voiced narratives grounded in reality, but with plenty of magic. I can’t wait for new readers to discover her genius.”

She explained that Linden Hills takes Dante’s Inferno as its inspiration, but the road to hell for the exclusive Black community at the centre of the novel is in following the white American Dream. Bailey’s Cafe is set in an American diner, but gradually the reader realises the cafe is on the cusp of the world, only appearing to troubled souls.

“For me, though,” Coonan said, “Mama Day is her masterwork—a novel of love and inheritance that blends American Gothic with Shakespeare’s ’The Tempest’.”

Nigerian-born short story and novel writer Okojie added: “I’m delighted to introduce Gloria Naylor’s tremendous books. These profound, searing and deeply humane tapestries of Black American life remain relevant for our times. I’m excited that new audiences will discover her important voice.”

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