Rosa Guy Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Rosa (Cuthbert) Guy 1928–

West Indian-born American novelist, short story writer, playwright, and editor.

Guy writes with sensitivity and compassion about black youths, often drawing upon her West Indian heritage and her experiences as a transplanted youth in Harlem. While portraying teenagers who mature by resolving conflicts, Guy also pursues special problems of black ghetto youths as they attempt to transcend the roles society has traditionally ascribed to them.

Guy's realistic depiction of ghetto life and the adversity facing black youths comes through especially well in her first novel, Bird at My Window, in which a brilliant black youth is destroyed both by exploitation from whites and by the subservient attitudes of his own community. The Friends, generally acknowledged as Guy's finest novel, explores the themes of friendship and family relationships. Following The Friends with two companion volumes, Ruby and Edith Jackson, Guy completed a compelling trilogy that perceptively reflects the struggles of youth.

Guy is respected by readers and critics for portraying contemporary conflicts. She has been especially commended for creating black heroines with whom readers can identify. In doing so, she has helped to fill a significant void in young adult literature.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 17-20, rev. ed. and Something about the Author, Vol. 14.)