Monday, November 19, 2007

One Drop of Blood (eBook edition)

In Bliss Broyard  meets long lost relatives and graphically discovers that racial prejudice is a two way street.

Just before he died, Bliss and her brother were told that their father was not French as they had always believed but in fact a "passing" black.

Race, as experienced in the United States is a fascinating subject. One with personal meaning for me. You see, growing up I had the experience (more than once) of being a member of the only white family within a hundred mile radius.

Our family was a like the preverbal sore thumb -- we stuck out!  My Father's blue eyes were a special kind of oddity that evoked hundreds of comments and some very odd rumors.

As an adult I have come to understand that racial stereotyping is the end result of millions of comments and thousands of odd rumors.  T

This riveting book is part memoir, part genealogy and part history.  The chapters chronicle her personal experiences and feelings as she traces her "roots" and meets her extended family.

Broyard does a masterful job of recreating the history of New Orleans and the Creole people. This is a thought provoking and sad tale of race, bigotry and greed.  The story of her family is told within the context of American history from the Slave Rebellions through the Civil War, into Reconstruction and the Northern migration.

Anatole Broyard’s own words eloquently describe how I felt about this book:  "The more I like a book, the more reluctant I am to turn the page. Lovers, even book lovers, tend to cling. No one-night stands or "reads" for them."

The publisher says:

Two months before he died of cancer, renowned literary critic Anatole Broyard called his grown son and daughter to his side, intending to reveal a secret he had kept all their lives and most of his own: he was black. But even as he lay dying, the truth was too difficult for him to share, and it was his wife who told Bliss that her WASPy, privileged Connecticut childhood had come at a price.

Ever since his own parents, New Orleans Creoles, had moved to Brooklyn and began to "pass" in order to get work, Anatole had learned to conceal his racial identity. As he grew older and entered the ranks of the New York literary elite, he maintained the facade.

Now his daughter Bliss tries to make sense of his choices and the impact of this revelation on her own life. She searches out the family she never knew in New York and New Orleans, and considers the profound consequences of racial identity.

With unsparing candor and nuanced insight, Broyard chronicles her evolution from sheltered WASP to a woman of mixed race ancestry.

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