A stunning short story collection that takes the reader into the heart of the Creole community in late-nineteenth-century New Orleans, from a key poet and journalist of the Harlem Renaissance—featuring an introduction by Danielle Evans, the award-winning author of The Office of Historical Corrections
“[Dunbar-Nelson]’s airy, easy eloquence is a pleasure.”—The New York Times
This vivid collection transports readers to New Orleans, from the delights of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, to the quiet Bayou where lovers meet, and to fish fries on the shore of the Mississippi Sound. Alice Dunbar-Nelson focuses the struggles and joys of the Creole community in these intimate stories featuring unforgettable characters.
In the title story, Manuela goes to the Wizened One for a charm when her lover strays; in “Little Miss Sophie,” a young woman goes to extreme lengths to get back a ring she pawned; in “M’sieu Fortier’s Violin,” a talented musician finds himself at a loss when his greatest passion is taken away; and in “The Fisherman of Pass Christian,” Annette, an aspiring opera singer, falls in love with a beautiful fisherman who has a secret. Together these stories provide a unique window into the world of everyday Creole Louisianians.
This edition also features a selection of stories from Dunbar-Nelson’s first collection, Violets and Other Tales, which beautifully compliments The Goodness of St. Rocque, making it the essential text for readers looking to discover this underappreciated writer.
The Modern Library Torchbearers series features women who wrote on their own terms, with boldness, creativity, and a spirit of resistance.
About the Author
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875–1935) was a writer of poems and short stories, a journalist, and an activist. A woman of African American, Anglo, Native American, and Creole heritage, she was born in New Orleans and was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance. She was married three times and also had romantic relationships with women throughout her life. Dunbar-Nelson’s writings often engaged with topics of racism, sexism, and bisexuality.
“A prolific, politically engaged writer . . . In her energy and appetite for life’s pleasures, from the literary to the human to the natural, Alice Dunbar-Nelson celebrated beauty and freedom to the end of her life.”—The Paris Review