BITCH IS THE NEW BLACK by Helena Andrews


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Political reporter Andrews assembles 16 autobiographical essays exploring her unconventional upbringing, academic and professional accomplishment and the challenges of being a successful, single black woman in Washington, D.C.

The scathingly witty author examines a wide variety of topics that, beneath the jokes and sarcasm, address weighty issues (depression, aging, abortion) with wry astuteness. The “bitch” referred to in the title is an allusion to the tough veneer—perhaps subtly survivalist—that Andrews claims is necessary for a black woman who is often the only black woman in school or at work. She reveals the inception of this façade in chapters about her childhood, where she describes being the only child of an openly gay single mother whose eccentricities were both fascinating and impenetrable. One anecdote describes the author’s abduction by her grandmother at age six, in a misguided attempt to protect her; another details her attempt to reconcile the Bible with her mother’s homosexuality (she couldn’t). Whatever the effect of these profound incidents, the author clearly inherited ambition and confidence. She attended Columbia and Northwestern before climbing the ranks as a reporter in Washington—a situation that presented an entirely new set of obstacles, from finding an apartment without rats to finding camaraderie in the workplace. “There’s something terribly frightening about being the only black person at a political newspaper when there’s a black guy running for president,” she writes. “Or should I say freeing?” Much of the book chronicles Andrews’s dating misadventures. Nearing 30, and with a hilariously grandbaby-crazed mother, the author’s reaction to a Washington Post headline titled “Marriage Is for White People” is understandably incredulous. Andrews, however, finds comfort in her artistic success, and has already sold the movie rights to her book.

An irreverent, savvy and sharp memoir.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-177882-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2010


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