It’s National Book Lovers Day, and there’s one great way to celebrate: Join the Forward’s book club!
For our next set of meetings, we’re reading Fran Ross’s “Oreo.” The 1974 book, Ross’s only novel, has in recent years been hailed as an underappreciated masterpiece. Like Ross, its central character, Oreo — given name Christine Clark — is Black and Jewish; the novel follows her as she tries to track down her long-absent Jewish father. It’s an inventive, transgressive and deeply engaging read, one about which the novelist Danzy Senna wrote, in 2015, “it read like a novel not from 1974 but from the near future — a book whose appearance I was still waiting for.”
Writing about Ross last year, I noted her wildly original and irreverent attitude, which characterized not just “Oreo” but every bit of her work and persona:
“Ross was 39 when “Oreo” was published, a Philadelphian who moved to New York to work in the media. She had a wicked sense of humor in life as well as prose. She did not live on the Upper West Side; she lived, as she wrote in Essence in 1979, “a bagel’s throw from Zabar’s.” Her middle name was Dolores, and she had a habit of signing letters “FDR.” Like so much of her humor, the joke was more loaded than it initially appeared. Looking, as Ross did, at the posh and purist white world that Franklin Delano Roosevelt occupied, what could be more unlikely than a black, Jewish girl — with a full afro — referring to herself by his revered acronym?”
If you’d like to join our conversations, we’ll be discussing the book in two installments. This coming Wednesday, August 12, we’ll be discussing chapters one through six; the following Wednesday, we’ll go over the rest of the book. To join, sign up using this form; if you encounter any issues, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. All meetings are at 3 p.m. Eastern, and the Zoom link will be sent out by email a couple of hours before the meeting. We hope to see you there!
For National Book Lover’s Day, join our next book club