The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (1982) is my next selection from Harold Bloom's western canon list, one of the longest reading challenges I've ever undertaken. At the rate I'm going, I might get through about 10% of the titles.
The book is a series of seven interconnected stories, all focusing on a run down housing development called Brewster Place in an unnamed city. The buildings are old and press up against an unnatural wall that was put in after the city developed the major road next to the buildings. The wall isolates the complex, but also protects it. The development has housed lots of different groups of people over the years and is now a part of the African-American community.
The women in the stories are different ages and come from different circumstances, but they are all pretty poor, and are usually trying to get out of there to live somewhere
else. Still, they form a community that loves and hates and obsesses and
criticizes and cares for one another. I liked some stories better than others, but all of them have a strong voice and a movement to them that really makes them a part of the whole. And the ending. OMG the ending is one of the best endings I've ever read. I'm an endings person, and a good one can wash over all the small flaws in a book.
This was Naylor's first novel and she won the National Book Award for it. Some of you may recognize this title from the very popular Oprah Winfrey produced / starring mini-series from 1989. If I watched it when I was a kid, I don't remember, but I'd love to check it out after reading the book. From YouTube it looks like it might be on the corny side, but I'd still love to see what they do with some of these characters.