In the Country of Women

In the Country of Women

In inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a white self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in R...

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Title:In the Country of Women
Author:Susan Straight
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Edition Language:English

In the Country of Women Reviews

  • Catapult

    is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and the nation's indomitable women, written by National Book Award finalist and Guggenheim Fellow Susan Straight.

  • Csimplot Simplot

    Excellent book!!!

  • Rachel Watkins

    Susan Straight's memoir traces the immigration and history of the women who came before her three daughters. A moving tribute to ancestors, IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN is a book about resilience and love that beautifully celebrates the American immigrant story. This book touched me deeply.

  • Vanessa Hua

    One of my favorite books this year! This memoir captivated and astonished me, both in its scope, spanning generations, yet its intimacy, too, as Straight takes us through the sprawl of her family's history that reflects the richness and pain and love and violence these women and men have endured and survived. Its examination of race is timely and timeless and urgent. Though clear-eyed and unflinching, there is also hope, something that I've valued in Straight's fiction, how she finds beauty and

    One of my favorite books this year! This memoir captivated and astonished me, both in its scope, spanning generations, yet its intimacy, too, as Straight takes us through the sprawl of her family's history that reflects the richness and pain and love and violence these women and men have endured and survived. Its examination of race is timely and timeless and urgent. Though clear-eyed and unflinching, there is also hope, something that I've valued in Straight's fiction, how she finds beauty and stillness in the rawest places. The perfect book club pick!

  • Holly Robinson

    Our contemporary literary canon overflows with memoirs written by women who have experienced and overcome adversity of all kinds. The very best of these stories are about something bigger than the authors themselves, throwing light on themes like prejudice, domestic violence, substance abuse, and religion. Susan Straight's dazzling memoir breaks that mold completely. Written as a love letter for her three mixed-race daughters, this book describes not only Straight's own life and her unique journ

    Our contemporary literary canon overflows with memoirs written by women who have experienced and overcome adversity of all kinds. The very best of these stories are about something bigger than the authors themselves, throwing light on themes like prejudice, domestic violence, substance abuse, and religion. Susan Straight's dazzling memoir breaks that mold completely. Written as a love letter for her three mixed-race daughters, this book describes not only Straight's own life and her unique journey to become a writer, but the many women in her family, and in her husband's family, who together provide a chorus of love and heartbreak as they build and raise families. Through Straight's impassioned prose, these women sing stories of surviving the challenges that women of all races and cultures had to face in forging a future in this nation where all of our daughters, no matter what race, color, or culture they might be, have voices that can, and will be, heard. If you only read one book this year, make it this one.

  • Janet

    Susan Straight is one of the best things ever to come out of California writing, author of nine remarkable novels including A Million Nightingales, Between Heaven and Here, The Gettin Place, and Highwire Moon, a finalist for the National Book Award. Most of them deal with her tough patch of emotional real estate, Riverside California, where she was born and continues to live, despite her prominence, her literary success, a full professorship in the UC Riverside English Department and frequent pu

    Susan Straight is one of the best things ever to come out of California writing, author of nine remarkable novels including A Million Nightingales, Between Heaven and Here, The Gettin Place, and Highwire Moon, a finalist for the National Book Award. Most of them deal with her tough patch of emotional real estate, Riverside California, where she was born and continues to live, despite her prominence, her literary success, a full professorship in the UC Riverside English Department and frequent publication of her essays as well as short stories. But she always returns to that patch of earth which in her stories is called Rio Seco.

    Almost thirty years since she burst onto the scene with a Milkweed National Fiction prize for Aquaboogie, a novel in stories which sent reviewers scrambling to ask "Is she white? Is the black?" in these interrelated stories about a black community, Straight has kept people scratching their heads as they look at this extremely pale white woman on the back of novels titled things like I Been In Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots. Yet no one who has read them has doubted the ringing truths and understanding of the harsh lives being led by her characters of many ethnicities coming together in her novels of Rio Seco.

    Now she has written a memoir, and it all falls together. The memoir is addressed to her three daughters, and tells the kitchen-table stories of the women whose struggles and flights have allowed those girls to come into being-- the black side and the white side--each woman's story a monumental tale of survival, beginning with a woman named Fine, born near Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1876. Because these are tales of history, of flight and violence and erasure, and Straight is determined to give you the way women survived, with each other's help, and in what America.

    It's a personal story, about being married to a black man, being taken in by his family, and the nature of that extended family, its history and story telling. She tells her own story, growing up int the 80s in Riverside, not without its own perils. She talks the way women talk--over the kitchen table, telling the truth now that you're old enough to hear it.

    In my quote for the book, I said, "

    is moving, fierce, and gorgeous. In a time of individualistic fragmentation and the tearing of the social fabric, Straight offers the contrary narrative, the essential need for community, its past and future, and celebrates her place in its weaving."

  • Cherise Wolas

    An extraordinary memoir about migration, forced and otherwise, about a place, Riverside, California, about race, black, white, and everything else, about the melting pot we each are individually, and as a clan, about family and families, about slavery, violence, love, poverty, the indomitable spirit of women, and so much more. It's an intense genealogy of the Sims and Straight families, and sometimes it's hard to keep the various people clear in one's mind, but it doesn't matter. I was born and

    An extraordinary memoir about migration, forced and otherwise, about a place, Riverside, California, about race, black, white, and everything else, about the melting pot we each are individually, and as a clan, about family and families, about slavery, violence, love, poverty, the indomitable spirit of women, and so much more. It's an intense genealogy of the Sims and Straight families, and sometimes it's hard to keep the various people clear in one's mind, but it doesn't matter. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and learned more about the history of my state in this book than from anything else. This is the first work by Straight that I've read, and now am eager to read her novels. Written as a love letter to her three daughters, with the goal of capturing all that they are, where they come from, what their lives have been about, where those lives come from. Heartfelt, clear-eyed, literary, and beautiful. The amount of historical research she's done is overwhelming in its scope and she puts it together seamlessly. It speaks to so much currently happening in this country. This isn't a book to speed through, it takes time. There's one thing Straight doesn't address, and I would have liked to know, but in her acknowledgements, she says the next book will be about it. A true accomplishment and highly recommended.

  • Tina Miller

    Made me want to know much more about the times they all lived through because the characters were both so vivid and so connected to the present. I also wanted to know about James Baldwin.

  • Diane Payne

    To some degree, this is a love letter to the author's three daughters, a letter of their history, of their tributes, of their memories. Susan Straight writes an honest memoir of her own upbringing, her relationship with her husband and his family, and her discovery of self. She must have been upset with her ex-husband during the chapter she referred to him as her ex instead of by his first name, which was how he was addressed throughout the memoir. That felt a bit off kilter since we don't learn

    To some degree, this is a love letter to the author's three daughters, a letter of their history, of their tributes, of their memories. Susan Straight writes an honest memoir of her own upbringing, her relationship with her husband and his family, and her discovery of self. She must have been upset with her ex-husband during the chapter she referred to him as her ex instead of by his first name, which was how he was addressed throughout the memoir. That felt a bit off kilter since we don't learn that he has done anything upsetting in that chapter.

  • Kristen Mcknight

    I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars with this book. The book got quite in depth with the genealogies of both her family (Swiss and Canadian) and her ex-husband's family (African American) and it was impossible for me to keep all the ancestors straight (so I quit trying).

    The parts I found fascinating included the strength of the women (especially on her ex-husband's side), the radical differences between the two extended families, and the stories about the relationships between the author and her

    I vacillated between 3 and 4 stars with this book. The book got quite in depth with the genealogies of both her family (Swiss and Canadian) and her ex-husband's family (African American) and it was impossible for me to keep all the ancestors straight (so I quit trying).

    The parts I found fascinating included the strength of the women (especially on her ex-husband's side), the radical differences between the two extended families, and the stories about the relationships between the author and her ex-husband's family. The author lived through her own hardships with such resilience and seemed to do an awesome job raising her three daughters. The book has left me with lots to think about.

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