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Fran Ross, introduction by Danzy Senna; afterword by Harryette Mullen


Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.


Fran Ross grew up in Philadelphia. She graduated from high school at 15 and studied Communications, Journalism, and Theatre at Temple University. She moved to New York in 1960 where she worked as a proofreader and journalist. Her novel Oreo was originally published in 1974 during the height of the Black Power Movement of the 60s and 70s. She then moved to Los Angeles to write comedy for Richard Pryor.


"Oreo is satire and metafiction, a picaresque and a bildungsroman." -- Adam Bradley, The New York Times

"Oreo is a blissful antidote to the cant of today and a celebration of the intricacies of consciousness; it encounters no boundary." -- Michelle Latiolais, Public Books

"I wish that more writers writing today would be as outrageous, irreverent, and just flat-out funny about race as Fran Ross was in Oreo almost fifty years ago." -- Susan Choi, Bookforum

"Oreo buzzes with whip-smart comic ferocity. The book is just goddamn funny." -- Marlon James, The Guardian

"Setting out from her black household in Philadelphia to find her deadbeat Jewish father in New York, [Oreo] proceeds through one of the funniest journeys ever, amid a whirlwind of wisecracks in a churning mix of Yiddish, black vernacular, and every sort of English." -- Danielle Dutton, The Guardian

[P]  New Directions Publishing Corporation  /  July 07, 2015

0.7" H x 8.0" L x 5.4" W (0.6 lbs) 240 pages