Turnipseed, Erica Simone 1971-

views updated

TURNIPSEED, Erica Simone 1971-


Born June 12, 1971; Education: Yale University, B.A. (anthropology), 1993; Columbia University, M.A. (anthropology), 1999.


Home—Brooklyn, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022. E-mail—[email protected].


Director of development at the Twenty-First Century Foundation. Member of board of directors of the Black Ivy League Alumni League; founder and cochair, Five Years for the House Initiative.


A Love Noire (novel), Amistad (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to Children of the Dream: Our Own Stories of Growing Up Black in America, compiled by Laurel Holliday, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 2000.


In an autobiographical essay on her home page, Erica Simone Turnipseed describes herself as "an avid reader for as long as I could read." Teen novels by writers such as Judy Blume were supplemented with works by Harper Lee and Maya Angelou. In college, she delved into the works of literary greats such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Ralph Ellison, while searching out African writers and "keen women's voices," she remarked. "And through all those years," Turnipseed said, "I wrote." She "wrote poems and short stories about love and identity and displacement," she remarked on her home page. Despite the lifelong feast of reading and writing, "by my late twenties, I realized that I had read a lot and written a lot, but I still was looking for a story that explored an African diaspora that was neither long ago nor far away." She "longed to read that book but could never find it on library and bookstore shelves. So I wrote the book I wanted to read: A Love Noire."

In A Love Noire graduate student Noire Demain and investment banker Innocent Pokou have little in common when they meet at a book signing. She is a brilliant scholar pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature, idealistic, principled, a bit radical, and intellectually independent. He is a wealthy professional from the Ivory Coast, a handsome and well-educated man. Despite her own educational background, Noire is suspicious of privilege and dubious about the upwardly mobile black men she meets. Innocent, however, is different from his friends; he knows how to treat her with dignity and respect. Innocent also retains strong ties to his family and heritage in Africa, giving him a cultural richness and social consciousness that Noire finds irresistible. Noire and Innocent hesitantly embark on an energetic relationship that takes them throughout the world, to exotic locations where a variety of black cultures and expatriate viewpoints show "that everyone's experience is an authentic Black story," Turnipseed remarked in Essence.

A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "Turnipseed's take on star-crossed lovers breaks no molds, but her voice is strong and confident." In the book, "Turnip-seed explores not only the much-hyped quest of Gen X brothers and sisters getting, and trying to stay, together amid a growing class divide and collapsing global boundaries," but love of all types, including "good, old-fashioned self-love," commented Angela Ards in Village Voice. Robert Fleming, writing in Black Issues Book Review, remarked favorably on Turnipseed's "splendid writing" and "the maturity and insight she shows on each page" of the novel. "Turnipseed's narrative is powerful, vital, and totally entertaining," Fleming observed, concluding that "A Love Noire is a thoroughly engaging, provocative literary debut."



Black Issues Book Review, May-June, 2003, Robert Fleming, review of A Love Noire, p. 48.

Essence, June, 2003, review of A Love Noire, p. 136.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2003, review of A Love Noire, p. 713.

Publishers Weekly, June 30, 2003, review of A Love Noire, p. 58.

Village Voice, July 2, 2003, Angela Ards, review of A Love Noire, p. 52.


Erica Simone Turnipseed Home Page,http://www.ericasimoneturnipseed.com/ (April 4, 2004), autobiography of Erica Simone Turnipseed.

HarperCollins,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (April 4, 2004), biography of Erica Simone Turnipseed; "A Conversation with Erica Simone Turnipseed."*