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The Birds of Opulence by Chrystal Wilkinson

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This book, Wilkinson’s first novel after the publication of two collections of short stories, won the 10th Annual Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, given to promising African-American writers. The novel follows several generations of African-American women as they wrestle with their relationship to the land, to sexuality, and to madness. "Crystal Wilkinson's Opulence, Kentucky, is small geographically and in population, but the novel's concerns are large―life, death, love, betrayal, despair, and hope. Wilkinson is a lyrical writer, and, once encountered in these pages, her characters and their stories linger in our memories long after the last page is turned. The Birds of Opulence is a novel to be read and reread."―Ron Rash. "Those birds. . . . They swoop down on and around Opulence, Kentucky, proffering a sweeping perspective of more than three decades that's both grand and intimate. Yes, they are all here, several generations of women―Minnie Mae, Tookie, Lucy, Francine, Yolanda, and Mona―and there are a few good men, too, each and every one of them indelible. Burnished with Wilkinson's stunning prose, The Birds of Opulence is golden and magnificent."―Robin Lippincott. "Wilkinson's novel is a special gift to Kentuckians. It speaks to the love of family and the region, and delivers real life tragedies and joys with honest appraisal. It deserves a spot on the shelf with the masters, James Still, Harriette Arnow, and Wendell Berry."―Louisville Review. Crystal Wlkinson was raised by her grandparents on Indian Creek in Casey County, Kentucky, and often spent the summers in Stanford, Kentucky, where several of her aunts and uncles and cousins lived. She now teaches at Berea College. She and her partner own and manage a Lexington, Kentucky, bookstore, The Wild Fig.

Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, a 2018 paperback edition of a 2016 release. 202 pages. Trade paperback