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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Book rating: 05 Paperback

By (author) Maya Angelou

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  • Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 126mm x 196mm x 22mm | 249g
  • Publication date: 26 January 1984
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 086068511X
  • ISBN 13: 9780860685111
  • Sales rank: 2,879

Product description

Maya Angelou's seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover. 'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya Angelou

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Author information

Dr Maya Angelou was one of the world's most important writers and activists. Born 4 April 1928, she lived and chronicled an extraordinary life: rising from poverty, violence and racism, she became a renowned author, poet, playwright, civil rights' activist - working with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King - and memoirist. She wrote and performed a poem, 'On the Pulse of Morning', for President Clinton on his inauguration; she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and was honoured by more than seventy universities throughout the world. She first thrilled the world with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). This was followed by six volumes of autobiography, the seventh and final volume, Mom & Me & Mom, published in 2013. She wrote three collections of essays; many volumes of poetry, including His Day is Done, a tribute to Nelson Mandela; and two cookbooks. She had a lifetime appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University of North Carolina. Dr Angelou died on 28 May 2014.

Customer reviews

By Chrissy 08 Jun 2014 5

Did I enjoy this book: In honor of the recently departed poet, artist, singer, activist, and beautiful soul, Maya Angelou, I�?�¢??m offering this review of one of my all time favorite stories.

I Know Why the Caged Bird sings is unforgettable. Angelou doesn�?�¢??t just tell stories she changes lives. She touches souls. And she reshapes our nation for the better.

In this book she deals with literacy, persistence, personal dignity, and success against impossible odds.

I love how she tells a story of survival without anger, blame, or excuses. It�?�¢??s hard to comprehend how she�?�¢??s able to write with such honesty about topics that, when this book was released, were hardly spoken of in private much less public.

"While I was writing the book, I stayed half drunk in the afternoon and cried all night.�?�¢?? Yet she kept writing. And readers of all generations are better off because she did. God bless you, Maya Angelou. Rest in peace.

Would I recommend it: Absolutely.

As reviewed by Belinda at Every Free Chance Book Reviews.

Review quote

A brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman -- President Barack Obama The poems and stories she wrote ... were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace -- President Bill Clinton She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace ... She will always be the rainbow in my clouds -- Oprah Winfrey She was important in so many ways. She launched African American women writing in the United States. She was generous to a fault. She had nineteen talents - used ten. And was a real original. There is no duplicate -- Toni Morrison

Editorial reviews

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood." Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching - and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey - her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect." However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book - an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time. (Kirkus Reviews)