Gloria Naylor (b. 1950)

African American fiction writer and essayist. Naylor was born in New York City to parents from Southern sharecropping families who, wanting better opportunities for their daughter, stressed reading and urged her to keep a journal from an early age. She was a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a teenager and young adult, but she left the church in 1975. She earned her B.A. from Brooklyn College and began writing her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), winner of the National Book Award for Best First Novel. She then earned an M.A. in Afro-American studies from Yale University and resumed her career as a novelist known for her strong portrayals of black women. Her books include Linden Hills (1985), Mama Day (1988), Bailey’s Café (1992), and The Men of Brewster Place (1998). Naylor’s most recent work, 1996, was published in 2005. See also