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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Bebe Moore Campbell 1950-2006


Bebe Moore Campbell, Novelist of Black Lives, Dies at 56

By MARGALIT FOX
Published: November 28, 2006

Bebe Moore Campbell, a best-selling novelist known for her empathetic treatment of the difficult, intertwined and occasionally surprising relationship between the races, died yesterday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 56.

The cause was complications of brain cancer, said Linda Wharton-Boyd, a longtime friend.

Along with writers like Terry McMillan, Ms. Campbell was part of the first wave of black novelists who made the lives of upwardly mobile black people a routine subject for popular fiction. Straddling the divide between literary and mass-market novels, Ms. Campbell’s work explored not only the turbulent dance between blacks and whites but also the equally fraught relationship between men and women.

Throughout her work, Ms. Campbell sought to counter prevailing stereotypes of black people as socially and economically marginal. Though critics occasionally faulted her characters as two-dimensional, her novels were known for their crossover appeal, read by blacks and whites alike.

Often called on by the news media to discuss race relations, Ms. Campbell was for years a familiar presence on television and radio. With the publication of her most recent novel, “72 Hour Hold” (Knopf, 2005), she also became a visible spokeswoman on mental-health issues. The novel, about bipolar disorder, was inspired by the experience of a family member, Ms. Campbell said.

Originally a schoolteacher and later a journalist, Ms. Campbell made her mark as a writer of fiction with her first novel, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” (Putnam), published in 1992. Rooted in the story of Emmett Till, the book tells of a black Chicago youth killed by a white man in Mississippi in 1955. After the murderer is acquitted at trial, the narrative follows his increasing dissolution.

“I wanted to give racism a face,” Ms. Campbell said in an interview with The New York Times Book Review in 1992. “African-Americans know about racism, but I don’t think we really know the causes. I decided it’s first of all a family problem.”


Her last book, 72 Hour Hold is probably one of the bravest books written by a black author in the last 20 years. Because it dealt with the completely taboo subject of mental illness in the black community. Much of the addiction within the black community is driven by self-medication. It was the kind of subject which most blacks
refuse to deal with.

posted by Steve @ 12:08:00 AM

12:08:00 AM

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