In Search of Satisfaction
By J. California Cooper
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385467865, 368pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 1995
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The folk flavor of her storytelling has earned her constant comparison to Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, but through four collections of short stories and two novels, J. California Cooper has proven that hers is a wholly original talent --one that embraces readers in an ever-widening circle from one book to the next. With In Search Of Satisfaction, Cooper gracefully portrays men and women, some good and others wickedly twisted, caught in their individual thickets of want and need. On a once-grand plantation in Yoville, "a legal town-ship founded by the very rich for their own personal use," a freed slave named Josephus fathers two daughters, Ruth and Yinyang, by two different women. His desire, to give Yinyang and himself money and opportunities, oozes through the family like an elixir, melding with the equally strong yearnings of Yoville's other residents, whose tastes don't complement their neighbors'. What Josephus buries in his life affects generations to come. J. California Cooper's unfettered view of sin, forgiveness, and redemption gives In Search Of Satisfaction a singular richness that belies its universal themes.
"Cooper's...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 foolish person's foolishness cannot be heard."
"Cooper writes about small-town life with a verve that nearly bursts off the page."