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Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry (edition 2018)

by Imani Perry (Author)

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723260,769 (4.06)1
Best-known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry had an unflinching commitment to social justice which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her twenties. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians; though she married a man, she identified as a lesbian. Perry provides insights into Hansberry's life and writings, and shows how her political activism is reflected in her works. -- adapted from jacket… (more)
Member:ohlonelibrary
Title:Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry
Authors:Imani Perry (Author)
Info:Beacon Press (2018), 256 pages
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Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry by Imani Perry

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This was a really deeply thoughtful biography; Perry manages to balance her personal investments in telling Hansberry's life story alongside Hansberry's actual life, and does so much work to draw out what is radical in her work. I found it really compelling, and a very easy and accessible read, even for people who are unfamiliar with Hansberry's work or maybe only have hear of Raisin in the Sun. It definitely made me want to look at her work more closely. The chapters about her friendship with James Baldwin and Nina Simone both were so powerful, and the connections made between her work and that of Baldwin were both so powerful.

Sometimes Perry seems too into her role as not!biographer, in resisting speculation in particular earlier in the book, and then seems to give that up fairly easily later in the book; frankly I'm fine with the latter, but I wish she toned down the former, if only because it disrupts the narrative a little bit. In some ways I appreciate how she draws attention to certain practices of biographers that often go unnoticed, but I think just committing--speculating on her pain is frankly not that different from speculating on her relationships, and I think it's fine to acknowledge that! But that was not enough to really distract me from the power of this book wholly, and I really strongly recommend it. ( )
  aijmiller | Jan 16, 2020 |
Here's a loving homage to a brilliant writer and social activist whose shine was burnished by her strong relationships with James Baldwin and Nina Simone. Perry shares all aspects of Hansberry's brief life, starting with her upbringing in a middle class black Chicago family, with a father who also died young and was planning to move the family to Mexico, so sick was he of the inability to succeed in a totally racist country. As Lorraine becomes affiliated with Communists, she attracts the attention of the FBI, but also of W.E.B. DuBois and the progressive literary lights of Harlem, poets, writers, playwrights, all of whom are captivated by her youthful energy and her joy in challenging and speaking truth to power. When coming out as gay was hardly conceivable, she married a white man who supported and promoted her but didn't go as far as demanding the end to the systematic beatdown of black people as Lorraine did. Her play A Raisin In The Sun, and her ability to rouse and raise consciousness in word and action made her almost as revolutionary in her arena as Malcolm X was in his (he admired her and was murdered three weeks after she died of pancreatic cancer at age 34). ( )
  froxgirl | Nov 5, 2019 |
A “third person memoir” using Hansberry’s life to explore the promise and peril of blackness in America. Hansberry was an economic radical, a lesbian married to a man, a woman whose girlhood included living in a house in a white neighborhood that her mother defended with a Luger while her father was away, and many other amazing things. ( )
  rivkat | Nov 28, 2018 |
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