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Author Gloria Naylor dies aged 66

The Women of Brewster Place novelist Gloria Naylor died on Wednesday (28Sep16) aged 66 after suffering heart failure, her niece Cheryl Rance confirmed to the New York Times.
Naylor’s debut novel won a National Book Award and was adapted into an acclaimed mini-series in 1989 that starred and was produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Critics praised the 1982 novel which centered on seven women living in an inner-city housing project dealing with a multitude of struggles together, including surviving after sexual assaults, homophobia and the death of a child.
The Women of Brewster Place won both the American Book Award and the National Book Award for a first novel in 1983.
Naylor, who was born in Manhattan in 1950, received a bachelor’s degree in English from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree from Yale University.
Her sister Bernice Harrison told Ebony Magazine that Naylor had been sick for some time and had a weak heart, but her family was not aware of the extent of her illness. Naylor suffered a coronary last Wednesday (28Sep16) morning in Christiansted, Virgin Islands, and medical officials were unable to revive her.
“She was a wonderful person, very generous, kind, and thoughtful,” Harrison told the publication on Monday (02Oct16). “And she will be greatly be missed.”
Before she became a successful writer, she held several jobs, including telephone operator.
Naylor later taught literature at several institutions, including New York University, Cornell, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The author’s novels addressed social issues including poverty, racism, sexism and gay rights and mainly featured black female characters.
Her other books include Linden Hills, Bailey’s Cafe, and The Men of Brewster Place, in which she rounded out the stories of the men who appeared in her earlier novel.
Her other honours also include National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.
She is survived by her sister Bernice, her niece Cheryl and a nephew.

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