Daughters of the Dust

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Dutton, 1997 - Fiction - 310 pages
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"Julie Dash's acclaimed film, Daughters of the Dust, was a cause for celebration, a lyrical portrait of a family of complex, independent African-American women. Now she returns to the rich Gullah culture of the Sea Islands in a remarkable new novel that reacquaints us with her fascinating characters, expanding their story in deeper and even more magically compelling ways." "From Harlem at the height of the celebrated literary Renaissance to the isolated islands off the Carolina coast, Daughters of the Dust chronicles the lives of the Peazants, a large, proud extended family. Amelia Varnes leaves New York to return to her mother's home and trace her family's history." "Through her evolving friendship with her cousin Elizabeth, Amelia enters the lives of the Peazants, tracing their origins to the early Africans brought to the islands more than a hundred years before. As she listens to the colorful stories, the "lies" they tell, their history comes alive in the poetry of their language and in the music of their voices. Past and present intertwine in their stories of Africa, of slavery and emancipation, of turbulent passions and the joys of family life, and of a people who shaped their destiny with their own strong hands. Amelia's pursuit of knowledge becomes a journey of self-illumination: In learning to treasure her family's traditions, she ultimately reclaims her heritage."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

African-American filmmaker Dash turns her award-winning movie of the same title celebrating the Gullah people of South Carolina into a first novel that's often fascinating but rarely gripping. Unlike ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - lilithcat - LibraryThing

Not just the screenplay for this marvelous film. The book includes a preface by Toni Cade Bambera, an essay by Dash on how the film was birthed, and a discussion between Dash and bell hooks. Not to ... Read full review


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Feminism and Film
Maggie Humm
No preview available - 1997
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About the author (1997)

A graduate of the American Film Institute and the University of California at Los Angeles film programs, Dash is perhaps the best-known African American female filmmaker in America. Her critical acclaim is founded on the success of her 1982 short, Illusions, which won Best Film of the Decade from the Black Filmmaker Foundation, as well as several other national and international awards. The film's protagonist is an African American female executive in the film industry of the 1940s, Mignon Dupree, who is passing as white without making an effort to do so; her coworkers simply assume that she is white. She is also imitating a masculine identity to the degree that she dresses and acts to discourage being eroticized by the white men with whom she must work as an equal. During the course of the film, Mignon finds that passing for white is oppressive, and she begins to assert her identity as an African American. Dash has also made a feature-length film, Daughters of the Dust (1991), which has been widely exhibited and also broadcast on public television's American Playhouse series. Like Illusions, it is concerned with the articulation and affirmation of African American identity. It focuses on the turn-of-the-century Gullah culture of the Sea Islands off the South Carolina coast, which has retained many West African traditions, particularly religious and occult practices. Dash sees this film and Illusions as part of a series that she hopes to make on the experiences of African American women in the United States in the twentieth century.

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