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Daddy was a number runner

Meriwether, Louise, foreword by James Baldwin

441 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0131971034 / ISBN 13: 9780131971035
Published by Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1970
From Bolerium Books Inc. (San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

208p., very good first edition in cloth boards and dj. The first novel to come out of the Watts Writers' Workshop. Bookseller Inventory # 10870

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Daddy was a number runner

Publisher: Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs

Publication Date: 1970

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl, this popular novel documents the disintergration of a black family in Harlem in the 1930s. A compelling, readable, occasionally funny work, it vividly illuminates the life of the ghetto, not just the despair and the violence, but the pride and the vitality as well.


For Francie, childhood in 1930s Harlem means having one brother in the gangs and another who gives up his dream of being a chemist because "how many firms gonna hire a black chemist?" It's having a big, beautiful father who can't find legal work and a mother who defies her husband and hires out as domestic labor in order to keep the family from starving. Childhood for Francie is having household chores like attaching the jumper to get free electricity and facing the disdain of Mrs. Burnett when she buys groceries from her on credit. It's avoiding the groping hands of the butcher, the baker and the fat little white man who sits next to her in the theater, or maybe not avoiding them for the extra meat, rolls, or dime they might offer. It means reading "smutty" comic books and walking down 118th street where the prostitutes work, but not knowing what is happening when her period starts. Francie's Harlem is a powerful, pent-up place, where dreams and good people are changed and destroyed, a neighborhood with strength and beauty, love and friendship, all trying to grow like plants without soil or water. And for Francie, during the year she turns from twelve to thirteen, living in Harlem means exchanging her longing for the white-hatted cowboy in the movies for a feeling of kinship with the Indians and a realization of what it means to be black and female in the United States. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister

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Bolerium Books specializes in American social movements and related topics. You can contact us for free email lists in our subject areas. We are located in San Francisco's Mission District on the third floor at 2141 Mission St. Our public hours are Noon to 6pm, Monday to Saturday.

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