The author of five previous (and much praised) novels, including The Landlord (first published in 1966, but made into a...

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The author of five previous (and much praised) novels, including The Landlord (first published in 1966, but made into a movie in 1993), Lattany here portrays the changing lives and times of two feisty African-American women in their 50s--former 1960s political radicals, currently straggling to make ends meet and launch their two convention-hugging offspring into the world. As the story opens, the kids, Aisha and Toussaint--daughter and son, respectively, of old friends and single-mothers-by-choice Cherry Hopkins and Patrice Barber--are engaged to be married to each other. But Patrice, a queen-sized earth mother with a shrewd streak, senses a serious problem: The kids, who have always looked alike and been weirdly similar in disposition and tastes, also, it turns out, share an allergy to strawberries and a mole beneath their left ear. Could they possibly share the same father, Patrice wonders--a dashing, debauched, highly educated black poet named Eugene Green, whom all the ""brilliant, achieving, liberated young sisters"" of the '60s coveted? Yes, it turns out, after Patrice and Cherry compare notes on the subject; and immediately they decide to take to the road and hunt up Eugene's presumed other progeny--their kids' presumptive brothers and sisters. Meanwhile, Toussaint and Aisha, furious with Patrice and Cherry for screwing up their lives yet again, take up with a homeless drunk named Gene, a channing, mordantly funny ex-professor who teaches them that joy can be found beyond rigid social conventions. Of course, Gene is Eugene, their father--as they all learn when Cherry and Patrice return home with a passel of women and children who have also been touched by Gene. Heartwarming, with vivid characters (especially among the children), but marred by a plot that's silly and full of holes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0345417208

Page Count: 288

Publisher: One World/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996