When Noire, a hip, Afro-wearing Ph.D. student, walks into Brown Betty Books, her righteousness kicks in to overdrive amid the self-identified "talented tenth" who wear their double degrees and five-hundred-dollar shoes like badges of honor. And then Innocent, a well-heeled investment banker from Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, walks in and turns her on her head. Innocent seems interested in her but he's one of them.
Before meeting him, Noire shunned the "bourgie" world of black-moneyed cosmopolitans like Innocent, opting instead for socially conscious (but economically challenged) artists and urban intellectuals. Their mutual attraction blossoms into lust and eventually love but it lives in the shifting sands of personal beliefs and professional ambitions that are often at odds.
Set in New York City with jaunts to Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, A Love Noire is the story of an unlikely couple that transcends all they've known to learn the redemptive power of love.
Love blossoms for an unlikely couple in this provocative debut, a romance embroidered with outspoken treatment of issues of race and class. Noire Demain is a brilliant and socially conscious Ph.D. student in comparative literature with a tendency to criticize those who may not share her ideals. The last person she expects to fall in love with is Innocent Pokou, an investment banker from Cete d'Ivoire whom she considers part of "the black bourgeoisie." But sparks fly and, as each realizes that the other is more than a mere stereotype, their relationship deepens. Turnipseed's take on star-crossed lovers breaks no molds, but her voice is strong and confident. She sets convincing and complex characters within the disparate neighborhoods of New York's Harlem and SoHo, the "historic locales in and around black Charleston" and the politically unstable climate of Cete d'Ivoire. Turnipseed's other great strength, much like Noire's, is her fearlessness in tackling touchy subject matter, whether it be spicy sex scenes or exploration of identity politics. Turnipseed's earnest treatment of social issues sometimes becomes heavy-handed and slows the narrative momentum. That, and occasional lapses into melodramatic prose ("The subway was a curious place where bodies touched even when lives did not. Was this a metaphor for life?") are the novel's weaknesses. But its many strengths, including frank dialogue and a fierce intelligence, make this a vibrant, engaging debut. Agent, Nicholas Roman Lewis. (July) Forecast: Though Turnipseed's protagonist rails against buppies, they are the likely audience for the novel. Four-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.