Born in MS; children: two sons. Education: Columbia College (Chicago, IL), B.A., M.F.A.
Home—Chicago, IL. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer. Columbia College, Chicago, IL, teacher of fiction writing, 1991-92; Chicago Council on Fine Arts, writer in residence; coproducer and copublisher of the literary journal Thunder Egg; gives readings from her works. Also works as a research analyst.
Grant from Illinois Arts Council; Best Books of 2002, BET.com, for SilkyDreamGirl.
SilkyDreamGirl (novel), Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Neecey's Lullaby, Harlem Moon/Broadway (New York, NY), 2005.
Work represented in anthologies, including Gumbo: A Celebration of African American Writers; The Thing about Love Is …; and The Thing about Second Chances. Contributor of short stories and poetry to periodicals, including Emergence: Journal of Women Writing, Hair Trigger, Shooting Star Review, and Short Fiction by Women.
Novelist and poet Cris Burks began her career telling stories to her sixteen younger siblings. She later refined these skills in the M.F.A. writing program at Chicago's Columbia College and has gone on to publish well received novels, including the 2002 SilkyDreamGirl, a "down-to-earth and engaging tale," according to Booklist contributor Lillian Lewis. The novel features Katie Coomers, thirty-seven, a veteran of four marriages, and still looking for love, but now on the Internet. As Burks noted on her Home Page, this debut novel deals with the theme of "every woman's desire to be appreciated for her own self-beauty." Further praise for the work came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who felt Katie's "sharp-tongued commentary gives a touch of comedy to this sexy and satisfying story of self-discovery."
Burks's 2005 novel, Neecey's Lullaby, is a grim but hopeful coming-of-age tale set in Chicago during the 1950s. Young Neecey is forced to struggle "against poverty and severe child abuse and neglect," as Faye A. Chadwell noted in Library Journal. Her parents, Jesse and Ruby, part, and her mother thereafter takes up with a succession of men, some of whom pay too much attention to Neecey. More children are born to Ruby, and Neecey is left to take care of them. But through it all, Neecey finds a way to cope. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called this second novel an "unflinching, precisely observed story of a girl's will to survive." However, a Kirkus Reviews critic was less positive, finding the work "painfully earnest and overheated." A higher assessment came from Booklist contributor Hazel Rochman, who noted: "Best of all is the plot, with surprises that turn out to be not surprising at all."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, May-June, 2006, Ira Porter, review of Neecey's Lullaby, p. 37.
Booklist, September 15, 2002, Lillian Lewis, review of SilkyDreamGirl, p. 206; December 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Neecey's Lullaby, p. 22.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2005, review of Neecey's Lullaby, p. 1288.
Library Journal, February 1, 2006, Faye A. Chadwell, review of Neecey's Lullaby, p. 69.
Publishers Weekly, September 16, 2002, review of SilkyDreamGirl, p. 50; January 9, 2006, review of Neecey's Lullaby, p. 32.
Cris Burks Home Page,http://www.crisburks.com (February 22, 2007).
Storyweek, Columbia College Chicago Web site,http://storyweek.colum.edu/ (February 22, 2007), "Cris Burks."