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Gayl Jones Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Collections

White Rat (1977)Description / Buy at Amazon
Song for Anninho (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hermit-Woman (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Xarque And Other Poems (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
Song for Almeyda and Song for Anninho (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Butter (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Liberating Voices (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Gayl Jones is a renowned African-American author of cultural, African-American, literary fiction, historical fiction, and women’s fiction stories. She hails from Lexington, Kentucky and is particularly famous for her books, Corregidora, The Healing, and Eva’s Man. Gayl was born on November 23, 1949, to her parents, Lucille and Franklin Jones. She was brought up in Speigle Heights, a popular neighborhood in Lexington. Her father worked as a cook while her mother aspired to become a writer, but stayed at home. There was no indoor toilet in Gayl’s home when she was small. During her youth, Gayl mostly stayed with her grandparents in a storytelling environment. Her grandmother used to write plays for the church, while her mother used to make up stories for entertaining the children and other members of the family.

Gayl claims that she started writing at the age of seven with inspiration from her mother. People in her school always saw her as a shy girl, but her school instructors praised her writing talents and encouraged her to learn more. In 1971, Gayl graduated from Connecticut College. She earned a BA degree in English. While in college, Gayl also won the Frances Steloff Award for her work in fiction. Later, she joined the Brown University for a creative writing graduate program. Gayl studied under the guidance of renowned poet Michael Harper and earned her master’s degree in 1973 followed by a Ph.D. in 1975. It was Gayl’s mentor Michael Harper, who introduced her work to writer Toni Morrison. Toni was working for Random House at that time and was quite impressed by her manuscript based on the life of a black woman. Subsequently, Gayl’s first novel, Corregidora, was published in 1975 when she was just 26 years old.

In the same year, Gayl was invited by the Michigan University as a visiting lecturer. Impressed by her lecture, the university decided to hire her on the post of an assistant professor. In 1983, Gayl left the teaching job and relocated to Europe. She was in Germany when she wrote and published The Birdwatcher along with a poetry collection. In 1998, her novel, The Healing, became a National Book Award finalist. At the time, media attention focused more on the controversy in Gayl’s personal life than her novel. The papers penned by her are currently kept at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Research Center. Gayl still resides in her hometown and makes attempts at writing new stories. Gayl likes to think that she is an improviser, which is quite evident through her work. She plays upon certain themes like a blues or jazz musician and keeps varying and exploring the various possible permutations.

The critics have mostly described her work as ‘Gothic’ for its exploration of violence, sexuality, and madness. When Gayl was studying at Michigan University, she met her future husband, Robert Higgins, who was politically quite active. Robert claimed that he was God at a parade in the 1980s and stated that AIDS was spread to punish people. When a woman punched him for his absurd statements, Robert tried to attack her with a shotgun, but was arrested and charged with a trial that ran for 4 years. Gayl fled with her husband to Europe instead of attending the trial. They returned in 1988 with hidden identities. When Gayl’s mother was diagnosed with cancer and was suggested to undergo a medical treatment, Robert objected to it and was banned by the hospital authority. Later, Gayl’s revealed that she was manipulated by her son-in-law. Following his mother-in-law’s death in 1997, Robert started a campaign against the Markey Cancer Center. The situation escalated for the worse and ended with the suicide of Robert Higgins. Gayl was put on watch for a suicide attempt. Since then, she has excluded herself from the outside world and only interacts with Michael Harper and her family members.

An exciting novel written by author Gayl Jones is entitled ‘The Healing’. It was released by the Beacon Press in 1998. Gayl has mentioned the primary characters in this novel in the form of Harlan Jane Eagleton. Initially, Harlan Jane is introduced as a faith healer. She travels to small towns by bus, restores minds & bodies, and converts skeptics. Before becoming a healer, Harlan Jane was employed as the manager of a minor rock star. And before that, she used to work as a beautician. Harlan was involved in a fling with the former husband of her rock star employer. There was also an affair with an Afro-German horse dealer.

Along the way, Harlan Jane lost her husband to another. He is a medical anthropologist, who is now indulged with a medicine lady in Africa. The story of Harlan Jane is told backward. Gayl has tried to bring readers closer and deeper into the world of Harlan Jane and the mystery at the center of her story, which is the tale of the first healing she experienced in her life. This novel is a lyrical and humorous exploration of a person’s struggle to let go of anger, love, and pain. The story is woven into a dramatic and unexpected beginning. It was liked by readers all over the world and immensely appreciated for its rich characters and excellent descriptions.

Another interesting book penned by Gayl is called ‘Mosquito’. It was also published by Beacon Press in 2000. The essential characters mentioned in this novel include Nadine Jane Johnson, Maria, Monkey Bread, Delgadina, Ray, and several others. This book opens by introducing Nadine Jane Johnson as a sojourner African-American lady hailing from Kentucky. She has the nickname Mosquito and drives a truck near the Mexico-Texas border. During her journey, she ends up becoming an unwitting agent of the Sanctuary movement, also called the underground railroad. This railroad is dedicated to transporting illegal immigrants to the United States from Mexico. The novel’s plot turns on the rambling discourses of Mosquito along with a set of other characters that includes a homegirl called Monkey Bread, an erudite bartender named Delgadina, a pregnant immigrant named Maria, and Mosquito’s lover named Ray. Maria is the one who is accidentally saved by Mosquito and sent to a place of safety. Ray is the leader of the railroad movement. This book was also highly praised for its inspiring tale of the struggles and the hope that gives strength to people to live off each day. Gayl received lots of appreciation for this book and was motivated to keep writing such inspiring stories.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Gayl Jones

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