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Jessie & Jesus & Cousin Claire
In these two hilarious and hair-raising novellas, Raymond Andrews has painted portraits of two very different black women whose means and modes of manipulation are mirror-opposites of each other, but whose motivations are frighteningly similar. The results--and their impact on those around them--are equally profound.
Welcome to the darkly comic world of Jessie & Jesus & Cousin Claire, vividly presented in the rambunctious and rollicking prose of a master storyteller and inspired seer into human nature. Published shortly before Andrews's death in 1991, Jessie & Jesus & Cousin Claire won a 1992 American Book Award.
Born in 1934 in Morgan County, near Madison, Georgia, RAYMOND ANDREWS was the fourth of ten children. At the age of fifteen he left his sharecropper home for Atlanta, where he worked during the day and attended night classes at Booker T. Washington High School, then the only public night high school for blacks in Georgia. After graduating, he served four years in the U. S. Air Force, including a tour of duty in Korea. He later attended Michigan State University.
In 1958 Andrews moved to New York City. For more than twenty-six years, he divided his time between New York and Europe, writing and working a variety of jobs, including airline agent, photo librarian, proofreader, air courier, bookkeeper, and farmer.
Andrews grew up immersed in the storytelling tradition of the African-American south, and this tradition speaks eloquently through his widely acclaimed novels: Appalachee Red, winner of the first James Baldwin Prize; Rosiebelle Lee Wildcat Tennessee; and Baby Sweet's. These books form a trilogy about the lives of rural and small-town blacks in the fictional locale of Muskhogean County in Georgia's Piedmont region.
In 1990, coinciding with the publication of The Last Radio Baby: A Memoir, the Robert W. Woodruff Library of Emory University purchased Andrews' papers and created the Raymond Andrews Collection. This collection, which is available for research, includes working drafts and manuscripts of his novels, photographs, clippings and printed works, mementoes, and correspondance with publishers, friends, and family.
Raymond Andrews died of a self-inflicted bullet would on November 25, 1991, shortly after the publication of Jessie and Jesus and Cousin Claire. Six months later, Jessie and Jesus and Cousin Claire won an American Book Award.
BENNY ANDREWS has illustrated all of his brother Raymond's books. Educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, he is an internationally-known artist whose works hang in major museums around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirschorn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Museum of African Art. He has received awards from the John Jay Whitney Fellowship, the New York Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others, and has served as the Director of the Visual Arts Program of the N.E.A. and the National Arts Program. He currently teaches at Queens College in New York."