Title: Philadelphia Fire (Signed)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, New York
Publication Date: 1990
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Wideman on the title-page. Bookseller Inventory # GK2188
Synopsis: Eleven people - five of them children - are killed in west Philadelphia when 6221 Osage Avenue is bombed out of existence. One small boy is seen to escape the fire. From his life of self-exile on an island in the Aegean, Cudjoe mourns the child until it becomes an obsession, leading him home, forcing him to face up to his own profound alienation and to the wrenching realities of his native land. He searches for the boy and, as he does so, he searches out his own past. Reconstructing his life plunges him backwards into memories both personal and communal, forwards inch by inch into a city fast becoming a nightmare. 'Wideman's novel succeeds through raw emotion and a linguistic versatility...Written in a sinewy language which also combines reportage, "Philadelphia Fire" operates as parable and social document' - "Irish Times". '"Philadelphia Fire" is a welter of fine writing, sociological observation, polemical address and messianic prophecy...A literary novel in the grand contemporary, postmodern, literary style' - "New Statesman & Society". 'Unquestionably the foremost chronicler of the urban African-American experience. A master storyteller, Wideman is both a witness and a prophet' - Caryl Phillips.
Review: When African-American writer Cudjoe returns to his hometown of Philadelphia to write a book about the 1985 police firebombing of a black cult, his homecoming spurs within him a myriad of memories and impressions. While recalling the abandonment of his white wife and two children, his failed novel and a dead mentor, he provides rich observation about the about the crumbling state of a once-beloved city. As his research unfolds, he examines issues of sex, race and the life of the city, ultimately uncovering information that sets the entire city into motion. Philadelphia Fire won the PEN/Faulkner Award for 1991.
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