Hoyte, Kirsten Dinnall
Hoyte, Kirsten Dinnall
Office—Concord Academy, 166 Main St., Concord, MA 01742.
Educator and writer. Concord Academy, Concord, MA, English and computer science teacher.
Astraea Claire of the Moon Award, Wesleyan University, 2001; Astraea Emerging Writer Award, 2006; Women's Studies Writing Prize, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Boit Manuscript Prize, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Layla and Jerome B. Weisner Prize for Contribution to the Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Black Marks: A Novel, Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including The Hoot and Holler of the Owls: An Anthology of New Black Writers, and Education That Works: An Action Plan for the Education of Minorities. Contributor to periodicals, including the Minnesota Review, Room of One's Own, Harvard Review, Sojourner, and Courtship of Words.
Although she studied political science as an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kirsten Dinnall Hoyte went on to earn a master's degree in writing and has since published numerous short stories and a novel. "I think that my interest in social science permeates my creative imagination," Hoyte noted in an interview with Rebecca DeRosa on the Go Magazine Web site. "I try to create original characters who may surprise the readers in the ways that they don't conform to stereotypes."
Hoyte's first book, Black Marks: A Novel, received many favorable reviews. A contributor to the Books to Watch Out For Web site commented that the novel "breaks boundaries and expectations." Rebecca Stuhr wrote in the Library Journal that the author "tells a convincing story of a troubled young woman with a complex personality."
The novel tells the tale of Georgette Collins, a young black woman in her early thirties who wakes up one morning to find that she has lost her memory and is fearful that she has also lost her mind. Told in the first person, the story weaves back and forth in time as Georgette tries to piece together her life while going through her daily routine, including working at her job as a librarian. Eventually, she finds fragments of a letter from her father that she uses to start recovering from her self-inflicted amnesia; she goes on to reconstruct her past using both fragments of her own memory and stories told to her by her grandmother.
"Mimicking the randomness with which memories return, the narrative is a collage of moments from different periods in Georgette's life, often connected by a feeling, a word, or an image," wrote Amber Drea in a review on the Venus Zine Web site. Jim Gladstone, writing in the Lambda Book Report, noted: "The novel is strongest in those sections where Hoyte allows Georgia to linger awhile, allowing resonance or suspense to build before her next free-associative jumpcut."
As Georgette's past is put together, readers learn of her childhood in Jamaica and her parents' bitter divorce. It appears that Georgette's amnesia is an effort to flee from the depression and sadness in her life. For example, Georgette goes on to lead a wanton, excessive life as she immerses herself in Boston and New York nightlife, having an affair with a rich white woman and with a male black academic. She eventually spends time in both alcohol rehab programs and mental institutions. After some years, she gets a job at a library while she becomes more and more reclusive. In addition to lovers, her grandmother, and her father, who is the parent she emulates most, other characters who play an important role in Georgette's life include her brothers, with whom she has love-hate relationships and her cousin, Lydia, who is showing signs of following the same path as Georgette. Georgette's boyfriend, Malcolm, also plays a central role as he represents her trying to lead a straight life, which is seen as acceptable by society. In the end, however, Georgette "finds healing in the oddest place: still outside the labels of gay and straight, rich and poor, White and Black, Jamaica and the United States," as noted by Rebecca James in a review on the Letters from Camp Rehoboth Web site. For Georgette, it seems impossible to live within the norms of society.
"Hoyte lays out a sympathetic catalogue of Georgette's painful struggles," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. Writing in Tikkun, K.E. Silva noted that the author "artfully indicts America's ethos of assimilation by portraying Collins's struggles as though they're symptoms of an unspoken demand that immigrants erase every aspect of their individuality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lambda Book Report, spring, 2006, Jim Gladstone, review of Black Marks: A Novel, p. 9.
Library Journal, December 1, 2005, Rebecca Stuhr, review of Black Marks, p. 113.
Publishers Weekly, November 14, 2005, review of Black Marks, p. 42.
Tikkun, July-August, 2006, K.E. Silva, review of Black Marks, p. 74.
A Room of Her Own: A Foundation for Women Writers & Artists,http://www.aroomofherown.org/ (March 24, 2008), profile of author.
Books to Watch Out For,http://www.btwof.com/ (March 24, 2008), review of Black Marks.
Center dor New Words,http://centerfornewwords.org/ (March 24, 2008), review of Black Marks.
Concord Academy Web site,http://www.concordacademy.org/ (March 24, 2008), faculty profile of author.
Go Magazine,http://www.gomag.com/ (October 3, 2007), Rebecca DeRosa, "Literary Lesbians."
Letters from Camp Rehoboth,http://www.camprehoboth.com/ (March 24, 2008), Rebecca James, review of Black Marks.
Venus Zine,http://www.venuszine.com/ (April 12, 2006), Amber Drea, review of Black Marks.