In a year that has seen too many Black creative luminaries taken too soon, the world mourns the death of author Gloria Naylor’s.
She died last Wednesday (September 28) at the age of 66, but The New York Times confirmed her passing yesterday (October 3). Her neice, Cheryl Rance, said that she died of heart failure in Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Naylor was perhaps best known for her debut 1982 novel, “The Women of Brewster Place.” The novel, which won a National Book Award, focuses on seven women living in a housing project and struggling with tragedy, including rape and the death of a child. “The Women of Brewster Place” was eventually adapted into a 1989 miniseries and 1990 TV show by Oprah Winfrey’s (who stars in both) Harpo Productions.
Her later works dealt with related themes of racism, homophobia, sexism and Black womanhood, principally emphasizing the lives of its Black female characters.
Naylor’s death, especially among those who she inspired to take up their own stories, was mourned by many on social media:
#GloriaNaylor Your words will have to be sufficient for us who dare to write in your tradition of courage and resistance.
— Avril Somerville (@SomerEmpress) October 3, 2016
“Not only is your story worth telling, but it can be told in words so painstakingly eloquent that it becomes a song.”
— Black Youth Project (@BlackYouthProj) October 3, 2016
Linden Hills & Mama Day rocked my world. I believe every word of it. Fueled my love for black religion in literature RIP #GloriaNaylor
— Monica A. Coleman (@monicaacoleman) October 3, 2016
#GloriaNaylor died tonight. Her novel, Women of Brewster Place, transformed my life. May she fly with angels. Grateful we had her voice.
— Rosemarie Robotham (@rarobotham) October 3, 2016