Author Paule Marshall. (GP)
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Paule Marshall, who channelled the often marginalised experiences of women, African Americans and West Indians into lyrical, passionate and politically charged fiction, notably in her debut novel Brown Girl, Brownstones, died August 12 at a care centre in Richmond.
She was 90.
Her son, Evan K. Marshall, said she had dementia that worsened in the past four months. Marshall’s death comes one week after that of Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist of Beloved and Song of Solomon.
“This is a grieving season for Black literature,” Imani Perry, a Princeton University professor of African American studies, said on Twitter, amid early reports of Marshall’s death.
The daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Marshall wrote about race, gender and cultural identity, focusing on the African diaspora in the Caribbean and United States. Her protagonists were almost always women – black women – who possessed a power and self-assurance that was rarely seen in print when she began writing in the 1950s. She also taught English and creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and New York University.
Among her works are The Chosen Place, The Timeless People, Praisesong for the Widow, Soul Clap Hands and Sing, Daughters, The Fisher King and Triangular Road.
The daughter of Adriana and Sam Burke, who migrated to New York from Barbados in 1919, was born Valenza Pauline Burke on April 9, 1929, but later changed her name to Paule.
In May 2016, Marshall was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 3rd annual BIM Literary Festival and Book Fair. Her son Evan accepted on her behalf.
(Excerpts from this article were taken from the Washington Post.)