Oreo by Fran Ross, intro by Marlon James / ISBN 9781509888467 / 230-page paperback from New Directions
Oreo has been 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. Oreo’s quest is to find her father, and discover the secret of her birth.
What ensues in Fran Ross's opus 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.
"A rollicking little masterpiece . . . one of the most delightful, hilarious, intelligent novels I've stumbled across in recent years" – Paul Auster
"Oreo 's satire on racial identity reads like a story for our times."– Observer