PUSHKIN AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES by Alice Randall

PUSHKIN AND THE QUEEN OF SPADES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Black mother with a singular case of the blues.

But Windsor Armstrong is not just any single mom: she’s a Harvard-educated professor of Afro-Russian literature who got her doctorate from the University of London and has tenure at Vanderbilt University. Her only son is a star football player named Pushkin X (in case anyone doesn’t know it, the great-grandfather of the Russian poet was black). Her Pushkin loves a lap-dancer named Tanya, a Russian émigré who is most definitely white. Windsor just can’t help second-guessing her decisions: Should she have left her boy in someone else’s care while she was getting a first-class education? And why does Pushkin have to ask a lot of nosey questions about who his daddy was? Can’t he accept that Windsor was both his mama and his daddy and let it go at that? (No.) It’s high time he understood his history—and in the process of bringing that understanding about, Windsor comes to terms with her own history. This includes, for no particular reason, an excruciatingly long doggerel poem: The Negro of Peter the Great, in which “Russia” is forced to rhyme with “the czar, would he cuss ya?” Randall, who ignited a brief media firestorm and legal battle when she dared reinvent Gone With the Wind from a black perspective as The Wind Done Gone (2001), founders in her second outing: literary references, cultural allusions, and snippets of black and white history are crammed into the narrative in a way that doesn’t make much sense. The result: an intellectual’s card game of 52-Pickup.

Striking cover, scattershot prose. Not quite a novel, and not quite anything else either.

Pub Date: May 4th, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-43360-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2004




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