Maud Martha

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First edition

Maud Martha is the only novel written by Pulitzer Prize winning African American poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Published in 1953 by Harper & Brothers and reprinted by Third World Press, it includes a series of vignettes following the title character Maud Martha as she negotiates the passage from childhood to adulthood in black Chicago neighbourhoods.[1][2]


Structurally, the novel has a nonlinear narrative, that also is explained in poetic language unusual to novels. Rather, as critic GerShun Avilez describes it, it is a "fragmentary poetic narrative."[3] Other critics focus on its artistic connection to Brook's poetry; Asali Solomon highlighted the language of the novel saying that it is good at "gracefully evoking the nastiness of life."[1] Writing for the Poetry Foundation, writer Sandra Jackson-Opoku disagreed with the assertion that the narrative of the novel is nonlinear.[4]


Reviewing the novel for NPR in 2006, Asali Solomon said the character's life "resembles your life or mine: good days and bad, no headlines."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Solomon, Asali. "Gwendolyn Brooks' Indispensable 'Maud Martha'". Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  2. ^ Taylor, Elizabeth (February 13, 2010). ""Maud Martha" by Gwendolyn Brooks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
  3. ^ Avilez 142.
  4. ^ Jackson-Opoku, Sandra (June 27, 2017). "Snapshots in a Family Album: Maud Martha, a Poet's Narrative". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved March 27, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Avilez, GerShun (Spring 2008). "Housing the Black Body: Value, Domestic Space, and Segregation Narratives". African American Review (Representing Segregation ed.). 42 (1): 135–147. JSTOR 40301309.
  • Bryant, Jacqueline (2002). Gwendolyn Brooks' Maud Martha: A Critical Collection. Third World Press.
  • Bubíková, Šárk (2011). "Maud Martha and the tradition of the Ethnic Female Bildungsroman". Litteraria Pragensia. 21 (41).
  • Rabinowitz, Paula (Spring 2001). "Domestic Labor: Film Noir, Proletarian Literature, and Black Women's Fiction". MFS Modern Fiction Studies. 47 (1): 229–254. doi:10.1353/mfs.2001.0009.
  • `Shaw, Harry B. (1996). "Maud Martha". In Stephen Caldwell Wright (ed.). On Gwendolyn Brooks. U of Michigan P. pp. 124–37.