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Oreo (Picador Classic)


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A pioneering, dazzling satire about a biracial black girl from Philadelphia searching for her Jewish father in New York City.

About the Author

Fran Ross was born in 1935 and grew up in Philadelphia. She graduated from high school when she was fifteen years old and went onto study Communications, Journalism, and Theatre at Temple University. She moved to New York in 1960, where she worked as a proofreader and journalist. Oreo was originally published in 1974 during the height of the Black Power Movement. She then moved to Los Angeles to write comedy for Richard Pryor. She died in 1985 in New York.


What a rollicking little masterpiece this book is, truly one of the most delightful, hilarious, intelligent novels I've stumbled across in recent years, a wholly original work . . . I must have laughed out loud a hundred times, and it's a short book, just over 200 pages, which averages out to one booming gut-laugh every other page -- Paul Auster, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of 4 3 2 1
I'm usually very slow to come around to things . . . but I couldn't believe Fran Ross's hilarious 1974 novel Oreo hadn't been on my cultural radar -- Paul Beatty, Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Sellout
Wild, satirical and pathbreaking . . . flat-out fearless and funny and sexy and sublime . . . a nonstop outbound flight to a certain kind of readerly bliss. It may have been first published more than forty years ago, but its time is now * New York Times *
Brilliant -- Sam Baker * The Pool *
Setting out from her black household in Philadelphia to find her deadbeat Jewish father in New York, Oreo proceeds through one of the funniest journeys ever, amid a whirlwind of wisecracks in a churning mix of Yiddish, black vernacular, and every sort of English * Guardian *
Its satire on racial identity reads like a story for our times . . . Could Oreo be this year's Stoner? * Observer *
In an alternative world she should have been one of the great American satirists . . . Ross never came across a subject she wouldn't laugh at . . . hilarious -- Marlon James, BBC Radio 4
I laughed out loud many times while reading Fran Ross's brilliant 1974 novel, Oreo . . . a tour de force retelling of the Theseus myth. Our half black, half Jewish feminist super-heroine is an invigorating mixture of street smarts, linguisitc acrobatics and erudition -- Siri Hustvedt, author of What I Loved
Think: Thomas Pynchon meets Don Quixote, mixed with a crack joke crafter. I'm not sure I've ever admired a book's inventiveness and soul more * Chicago Tribune *
A brilliant and biting satire, a feminist picaresque, absurd, unsettling, and hilarious . . . Ross' novel, with its Joycean language games and keen social critique, is as playful as it is profound. Criminally overlooked. A knockout * Kirkus *
Funny, brilliant and whip-smart, Oreo is a modern parody of the myth of Theseus in the shape of a memorable self-discovery story filled with 70s pop culture * Elle Magazine *
Oreo sings with linguistic inventiveness, subverting and sidestepping the tropes that would have been expected of an African-American novel of the 1970s. It's also hilarious, Ross seemingly loath to let a paragraph slip by without adding a joke. Oreo marks the emergence of an original and singular voice who, sadly, never wrote another book * Sunday Herald *
The brilliant, hilarious, multilingual, brash, tender, bawdy, and unsentimental voice of Ross's heroine equals the rare and outrageous voice of Ross herself * Women's Review of Books *
With its mix of vernacular dialects, bilingual and ethnic humor, aside jokes, neologisms, verbal quirks, and linguistic oddities, Ross's novel dazzles . . . -- Harryette Mullen
Oreo is one of the funniest books I've ever read. To convey Oreo's humor effectively, I would have to use the comedic graphs, menus, and quizzes Ross uses in the novel. So instead, I just settle for, 'You have to read this' -- Mat Johnson, NPR Books
Readers who enjoy play-on-words and post-modern novels will love this book * The Report *
A ground-breaking satire * The Offing *
Hilariously offbeat * Essence Magazine *
Fran Ross' voice and bravado threads this inexhaustibly inventive first novel. The author, who died at age 50 in 1985, didn't release another novel. Still, we can delight in the masterpiece that she created that is just as urgent now as was it was then, if not more so * NY1 *
Boisterous, frisky and dazzlingly clever. An absolute gem -- Megan Bradbury, author of Everyone is Watching
Now published in Britain for first time, Oreo's satire on racial identity reads like a story for our times. "Oreo" is Christine, the daughter of a black mother who leaves home in search of her estranged Jewish father. "Christine is a black woman on a mission to find her whiteness," writes Marlon James in his introduction. Could Oreo be this year's Stoner? * Observer *
Oreo is an overlooked, funny feminist classic following the title heroine as she searches for her father in New York. Add [it] to your holiday reading list immediately. * Stylist *

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