The she lit book club will be reading Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor, the author best known for the award-winning novel-turned-miniseries The Women of Brewster Place. Her sophomore novel about an affluent Black community whose members are always reaching for wealth but may not know their quests are rooted in hell is lesser known.

We will meet virtually on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST. The goal is to hold a virtual book club meeting the last Saturday of the month for members everywhere and hold additional in-person meetings like visiting indie bookstores and attending author events in the Washington, D.C. metro area after the Covid-19 pandemic cools down.

Information on our second virtual book club meeting discussing Linden Hills can be found here.

Gloria Naylor, who rose to literary fame after winning the National Book Award for The Women of Brewster Place in 1983, used her advance money from the book to travel to Spain and Morocco to start work on her second novel.

Linden Hills was first published in 1985 by now-defunct publishing house Ticknor & Fields.

Four years earlier, Gloria had started a master’s degree program in African American studies at Yale University with writing Linden Hills as a thesis project under the guidance of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. She graduated from Yale in 1983. 

For the novel, she researched the history of the Black middle class in the U.S. Her research turned into a reimagining of Dante’s Inferno set in a Black enclave with residents so desperate for wealth that they don’t realize what they even signed up for.

We marked Gloria’s 72nd birthday on Jan. 25. She died in 2016 with unfinished manuscripts, including Sapphira Wade, a newly revealed work featuring the foremother of the characters in her third novel Mama Day that also enjoyed mild success.

Learn more about Gloria Naylor and her work at her archive housed at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.