J. California Cooper returns with a sweeping novel about love and heartbreak, perseverance and luck, telling her tale with an insight and grace that reaffirms Alice Walker’s words of praise for her previous works: “Her style is deceptively simple and direct and the vale of tears in which her characters reside is never so deep that a rich chuckle at a person’s foolishness cannot be heard.”
In her acclaimed novels and short stories, J. California Cooper has created moving portraits of people striving to make their way in a hard, often unjust world. Whether it explores the blatant racial and class biases of nineteenth-century America or the more subtle forms of discrimination that exist today, “It is the universality of her themes that has made Ms. Cooper’s work popular,” as the Dallas Morning News has written.
Some People, Some Other Place is Cooper’s biggest, most far-reaching novel to date. A multigenerational tale, it is set in a town called “Place,” on a street named “Dream Street.” In the words of the novel’s narrator, “the block surely had about it a feeling of long accumulation of history, of life, of many lives intertwined.” As she chronicles the interlocking lives of the residents of Dream Street, Cooper places the stories of the individuals and their families within the wider context of America’s social and economic history. We meet the narrator’s great grandparents, who left the poverty of the Deep South in 1895 and made their way to a farm in Oklahoma; her grandparents, who continued the northward journey with their eyes on the promised jobs of the industrial Midwest but were forced to settle without reaching their goal; and her mother, who finishes the journey and discovers that life at 903 Dream Street carries new burdens as well as rewards. The neighbors on the block are people of all colors, all striving to overcome personal troubles and disappointments, and all holding fast to their dreams of a better life.