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The Hottest Water in Chicago
Notes of a Native Daughter
Gayle Pemberton

1998 • 280 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
African-American Studies / Memoir

$22.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6337-8

“A thinking woman's autobiography. An unusual and engaging work, consistently honest and constructive.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

An illuminating cultural journey through black and white America.

Gayle Pemberton shares the accumulated revelations of a lifetime of observation in sixteen provocative autobiographical essays, interweaving her own history and that of her family with reflections on American literature, art, music, and film. Building on the tradition of such writers as W.E.B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison, but with a wisdom and sharp wit uniquely her own, Pemberton moves from the integration of a transient hotel in Chicago to a party on that city's Gold Coast; from journeys by train and the memories they provoke to reflections on race aboard ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; from the Mickey Mouse Club to the ghost of Emmett Till; from Harvard to Hollywood.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Smart, irreverent and righteously indignant. Pemberton has an eye for the absurd and a talent for expressing the ironies of growing up black in white America. The Hottest Water in Chicago chronicles the sting of racism and the survival of one family's spirit.”—Essence

“This is luminous social history, at once familiar and transcendent.”—Publishers Weekly

“The warmth and wit of Gayle Pemberton's The Hottest Water in Chicago are delightfully seductive. But the reader should make no mistake - this is a profoundly serious book.”—Toni Morrison

“Gayle Pemberton is a unique figure in contemporary American letters. She writes in a powerful yet pellucid style with a sense of history and humor about how we postmoderns live, love, and die. Her vast learning informs her vivacious prose and her deep wisdom shines brightly on every page. Thank God, the legacy of the great James Baldwin is still alive!” —Cornel West

“Pemberton is able to draw deeply from many traditions, and in the process creates a new American sensibility: one which is equally comfortable with (and knowledgeable of) Billie Holiday and Cotton Mather. This synthesis is implemented largely through a triumph of design.”—Paula Giddings

“A treasure trove of memories, moods, ideas, and opinions, stylishly offered up by an absolutely arresting new essayist. Gayle Pemberton is not only learned and bright, she is generous, loving, shrewd, and wry - and also downright funny much of the time. This is a book for everyone who can savor the American experience in all its complexities and complexions, its starry highs and its heart-thumping lows.” —Arnold Rampersad

GAYLE PEMBERTON was born in Saint Paul Minnesota. She has a B.A in English from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard University. She has taught as Smith College, Columbia University, Middlebury College, Northwestern University, Reed College and Bowdin College. She was associate director of African American studies at Princeton before joining Wesleyan in 1994 as chair of the African American studies program and William R. Kenan Professor of the Humanities in the English Department. She currently is under contract with W.W. Norton for a book entitled And the Colored Girls Go... : Black Women and American Cinema.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:54:27 -0500