Picture of author.

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Author of Big Girl

3+ Works 98 Members 5 Reviews

About the Author

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is an assistant professor of English at Bryn Mawr College and the author of Blue Talk and Love.
Image credit: Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, 2008.

Works by Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Associated Works

Mouths of Rain: An Anthology of Black Lesbian Thought (2021) — Contributor — 40 copies
Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker, 1974-1989 (2018) — Introduction, some editions — 31 copies
A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors (2015) — Contributor — 12 copies
All about Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (2014) — Contributor — 11 copies
x-24: unclassified (2007) — Contributor — 6 copies

Tagged

Common Knowledge

Gender
female
Nationality
USA
Country (for map)
USA
Birthplace
Harlem, New York City, New York, USA
Education
Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania
M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Temple University
B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Smith College
Occupations
Assistant Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College
Awards and honors
2016 Pushcart Prize nominee
winner of the Charles Johnson Fiction Award
the Glenna Luschei Fiction Award
the James Baldwin Memorial Playwriting Award
Short biography
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is a fiction writer and playwright from Harlem, New York. Her fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in a number of journals and anthologies, including Crab Orchard Review, Best New Writing, Bloom, Philadelphia Stories, Lumina, Homeboy Review, Baby Remember My Name, X-24 Unclassified, Woman's Work, and Baobab South African Journal of New Writing, as well as literary publications from Columbia, Yale, Temple, and Howard Universities. Her nonfiction prose has also appeared in GLQ, American Visions, and other publications. A 2006 Best New American Voices nominee, she has received honors and awards for fiction, critical writing, playwriting, and teaching from Temple University, The Boston Fiction Festival, New World Theatre, the NAACP, and other organizations. She recently received Crab Orchard Review’s 2008 Charles Johnson Student Fiction Award for her short story, "A Strange People," and was named a finalist for the 2009 Downtown Urban Theatre Festival for her play, “Two Rings.” Her short fiction manuscript, Blue Talk and Love, was named a finalist for the 2009 Sol Books Prose series award, and her short story, “Wolfpack,” was a shortlist finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award from Best New Writing. Mecca has taken part in several writing workshops, including the Key West Literary Seminars, the Pan African Literary Forum in Accra, Ghana, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the New York State Summer Writers Institute, where she was awarded the Smith-Shonubi Scholarship in fiction. Mecca holds a B.A. in Afro-American Studies from Smith College and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing from Temple University. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and working on her first novel, tentatively titled She Woke Up With the Words in Her Mouth. Set in Harlem in the 1980’s and 1990’s the novel focuses on social class, body image, and self-care in contemporary American families.

Members

Reviews

what a book. a beautiful treatise on being yourself, a love letter to hip hop and harlem, with lyric writing and immersive characters.

she talks about moving through the world as a black person, a woman, a big woman, a black woman, a big black woman. how she is seen or not seen, how her identity is formed by all of that. it's so well done.

"Sometimes Malaya thought back on the sun-dappled apartment days and wondered if that could really have been the same family - the same parents, the same her. Other times, she wondered if those memories could be real, and, if they were, what else in life could change without explanation."

"She recalled the relief she felt when she let herself be full of Shaniece, how her whole weight seemed to double and disappear at once, how she became an ocean, her body formless and invulnerable, a tiny part of a gorgeous moment. She recalled Shaniece's bottom lip against hers. She imagined sealing it in her mouth, holding it there between her tongue and her teeth like a candy, or a good meal, or a sentence too true to say."

"She wanted to say, What good has shame done you?"

"'...if you're a certain kind of person, you'll always hope. If you're a certain kind of person, you can always be naive. Your father and I are both that way. I guess it's a good thing in a sense. We saw all this change for the neighborhood, you couldn't have told us it wouldn't be for us. We never thought it would be for white folks moving in, as much as we know about the world. They don't even see it. They move in because they love Harlem - what they think Harlem is - and then they erase it. That's the story of black culture. We make magic, they consume it, make it theirs. We have to start over, and we do. Over and over again.'"
… (more)
 
Flagged
overlycriticalelisa | 3 other reviews | Oct 17, 2023 |
2022. Malaya is a fat 8 year old at the start of the book. Her mother takes her to weightwatchers meetings. They give her a stationary bike for Christmas. Still she compulsively overeats. Her grandmother suggests gastric bypass surgery.

This coming of age novel about a fat, black, lesbian in Harlem really gets you into her head and into the feel of Harlem.

Her parents and her grandmother are particularly well drawn too.

Malaya comes to accept herself and not choose to get surgery. She follows her passion for art. She doesn’t have to have it all figured out and be in love at the end, but she has hope.… (more)
 
Flagged
kylekatz | 3 other reviews | Oct 16, 2022 |
I found myself struggling with this book. While I was impressed with the writing and the way the author brought Harlem to life, the food descriptions kind of kept me a little unnerved...which may have been the point.
½
 
Flagged
Dianekeenoy | 3 other reviews | Aug 23, 2022 |
From Audre Lorde, Ntozake Shange, and Bessie Head, to Zanele Muholi, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Missy Elliott, Black women writers and artists across the African Diaspora have developed nuanced and complex creative forms. Mecca Jamilah Sullivan ventures into the unexplored spaces of black women’s queer creative theorizing to learn its languages and read the textures of its forms. Moving beyond fixed notions, Sullivan points to a space of queer imagination where black women invent new languages, spaces, and genres to speak the many names of difference. Black women’s literary cultures have long theorized the complexities surrounding nation and class, the indeterminacy of gender and race, and the multiple meanings of sexuality. Yet their ideas and work remain obscure in the face of indifference from Western scholarship. Innovative and timely, The Poetics of Difference illuminates understudied queer contours of black women’s writing.… (more)
 
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VanBlackLibrary | Aug 10, 2022 |

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Works
3
Also by
7
Members
98
Popularity
#193,038
Rating
4.1
Reviews
5
ISBNs
12
Languages
1

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