A Song Flung Up to Heaven
By Maya Angelou
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780375507472, 224pp.)
Publication Date: April 2, 2002
The culmination of a unique achievement in modern American literature: the six volumes of autobiography that began more than thirty years ago with the appearance of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the United States to work with Malcolm X. But first she has to journey to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive there than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated.
Devastated, she tries to put her life back together, working on the stage in local theaters and even conducting a door-to-door survey in Watts. Then Watts explodes in violence, a riot she describes firsthand.
Subsequently, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North, and she visits black churches all over America to help support King’s Poor People’s March.
But once again tragedy strikes. King is assassinated, and this time Angelou completely withdraws from the world, unable to deal with this horrible event. Finally, James Baldwin forces her out of isolation and insists that she accompany him to a dinner party—where the idea for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. In fact, A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of Caged Bird.
Poet, writer, performer, teacher, and director Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas, and then went to San Francisco. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she has also written five poetry collections, including I Shall Not Be Moved and Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?, as well as the celebrated poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at the inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton.
Praise for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
“I know that not since the days of my childhood, when people in
books were more real than the people one saw every day,
have I found myself so moved.”
Gather Together in My Name
“Gather Together in My Name is part of a select body of literature that includes The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Claude Brown’s
Manchild in the Promised Land and Ernest J. Gaines’
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Maya Angelou
regards the world and herself with intelligence and wit; she records the events of her life with style and grace.”
—William McPherson, The Washington Post Book World
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes
“This is a superb account by a great woman who has embraced a
difficult destiny with rare intelligence and
infectious joie de vivre.”
— The Boston Globe