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Getting Mother’s Body is the accomplished and critically-praised fiction debut from Suzan-Lori Parks, the 2002 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Billy Beede, the teenage daughter of the fast-running and six-years-dead Willa Mae, comes home one day to find a fateful letter waiting for her: Willa Mae’s burial spot in LaJunta, Arizona, is about to be plowed up to make way for a supermarket. As Willa Mae’s only daughter, Billy is heiress to her mother’s substantial but unconfirmed fortune—a cache of jewels that Willa Mae’s lover, Dill Smiles, is said to have buried with her. Dirt poor, living in a trailer behind a gas station, pregnant with an illegitimate child, Billy knows that treasure could mean salvation. So she steals Dill’s pickup truck and, with her aunt and uncle in tow, heads for Arizona with Dill in hot pursuit. While everyone agrees it’s only polite to speak of getting mother’s body and moving her to a proper resting place, it’s well understood that digging up Willa Mae’s diamonds and pearls will make the whole trip a lot more worthwhile.
Getting Mother’s Body takes its place in the company of the classic works of Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. However, when it comes to an ingenious knack for depicting down-and-out souls who, in order to survive, must seek and find sustenance in the little joys of life, Suzan-Lori Parks shares the stage with no one.
“With a playwright’s ear, a novelist’s eye, and a passionate appreciation for the complex magic of everyday women, Suzan-Lori Parks spins a story whose characters are as mysterious and sexy as lace curtains billowing at the bedroom window.” —Pearl Cleage, author of What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day
"Pulitzer-winning playwright Parks offers a collection of exuberantly loony characters, longing for better lives and a means for realizing their meager dreams. Told from the perspective of each of the different characters, including the dead Willa Mae, this is a thoroughly riveting novel of love, family, and redemption." —Booklist (American Library Association)
"...fluid, assured debut novel....Fueled by irresistible, infectious talk and prose that swings like speech, this novel begs (no surprise) to be read aloud." —Publishers Weekly