Inspired by the extraordinary events of Dr. May Chinn’s life, Angel of
Harlem is a deeply affecting story of love and transcendence. Weaving
seamlessly scenes from the battlefields of the Civil War, during which her
father escaped from slavery, to the Harlem living rooms and kitchen tables where
May is sometimes forced to operate on her patients, this fascinating novel lays
bare the heart of a woman who changed the face of medicine.
A gifted, beautiful young woman in the 1920s, May Edward Chinn dreams only of
music. For years she accompanies the famed singer Paul Robeson. However, a
racist professor ends her hopes of becoming a concert pianist. But from one
dashed dream blooms another: May would become a doctor instead–-the first
black female physician in all of New York.
Giddy with the wonder of the Harlem Renaissance and fueled by firebrand
friends like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, May doggedly pursues her
ambitions while striving to overcome the pains of her past: the death of a
fiancé, a lost child, and a distant father ravished by the legacy of slavery.
With every grief she encounters, a resilient piece of herself locks into place.
At times risking her life–attending to men stabbed in their homes and women
left to die in filthy alleys–May struggles to carve out a place for herself
within a medical world that still teaches that a “Negro” brain is not
anatomically wired for higher thinking. Yet against the odds, she achieves her
goal, starts her own practice, and becomes one of the first cancer specialists
in the city.
Alive with the pulse of black unrest in 1920s New York, this beautifully
textured novel moves with fearlessness and grace through a history that is by
turns ugly and sublime. With Angel of Harlem, critically acclaimed author Kuwana
Haulsey gives poetic voice to the story of a remarkable woman who had the
courage to dream and live beyond her era’s limitations.
Kuwana Haulsey is the author of The Red Moon, which was a 2002 finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Born and raised in New York City, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Rutgers University magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Kuwana has led seminars for the PEN/Faulkner Foundation in Washington, D.C., and at Rutgers University. She’s taught writing at UCLA and Agape International. She is an actress and currently lives in North Hollywood.
Angel of Harlem
by Kuwana Haulsey
Publisher: One World/Ballantine
Publication Date: 2004
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Book Type: New