The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips, is a stunning and riveting look at a large family in the south at the cusp of the civil rights era. Originally published in 2004 it is being re-released by Soho Press in January 2018. The author, Cleveland psychiatric nurse Delores Phillips died a few years ago. She visited Mac's to talk about the book when it came out in 2004 and on Sunday, February 25th at 2 p.m. her sister Linda Miller will be at Mac's to talk about Delores and The Darkest Child. We will also be presenting a dramatic reading from the book.
In 1958 Georgia, the shade of a 13-year-old black girl's skin can make the difference in her fate. Tangy Mae is the smartest of her mother's ten children, but she is also the darkest-complected. The Quinns--all different skin shades, all with unknown fathers--live with their charismatic, beautiful, and tyrannical mother, Rozelle, in poverty on the fringes of a Georgia town where Jim Crow rules. Rozelle's children live in fear of her mood swings and her violence, but they are devoted to her. Rozelle pulls her children out of school when they are twelve years old so that they can help support her by going to work--as domestics, as field laborers, or down at "the farmhouse," where Rozelle takes her oldest daughters to turn tricks for her. Tangy Mae has been offered the opportunity to apply to an integrated high school, and might even have the chance to graduate if she can somehow avoid her sisters' fate. Can she break from Rozelle's grasp without violent--even fatal--consequences?
"The Darkest Child is an exceptional debut from a most talented writer. Epic in scope, intimate in tone, it is sure to find a special place in the deepest crevices of your heart."
"A fierce and bitter story, told with striking authority. Delores Phillips has created a family and a town rich with resonant voices, all of them caught up in struggles both personal and public, and a mother so wildly commanding she earns a place beside some of the great mad women who embitter the lives of the children who love them."