As The Narrows sweeps ahead to its shattering denouement, Petry shines a harsh yet richly truthful light on the deforming harm that race and class wreak on human lives. In a fascinating introduction to this new edition, Keith Clark discusses the prescience with which Petry chronicled the ways tabloid journalism, smug elitism, and mob mentality distort and demonize African American men.
“Petry’s novels are unique for their time, and brilliant expositions in the intricacies of their literary, political, philosophical, and social implications. Written in a period when deliberate black feminist fiction and black feminist interpretations of fiction were ideas whose time had not yet come, they were revolutionary.” — Nellie Y. McKay
“Before the Bottom, before Brewster Place, there was the Narrows (also called the Eye of the Needle, the Bottom, Little Harlem, Dark Town, Niggertown). Before China, one of the whores in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, there was China the whore who lived in the Narrows.Before Alice Walker’s sexy blues singer Sugg Avery, there was Mamie Powther, the busty, sensual, blues-singing woman desired by all the men of the Narrows and beyond. And before Milkman Dead, the middle-class protagonist of Morrison’s Song of Solomon, was Link Williams, the Robesonesque lead character of Ann Petry’s final novel, The Narrows.”—Farah Jasmine Griffin, Columbia University