Oreo

Oreo

Book - 2015
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Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.
Publisher: New York : New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2015.
Edition: First New Directions paperback edition.
ISBN: 9780811223225
0811223221
Branch Call Number: ROSS F
Characteristics: xvii, 230 pages ; 21 cm

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004: Destiny of the Republic + End-of-Year lists

To be quite honest, neither of us thought we'd care about James Garfield as much as we now do. Thanks, Candice Millard!  Two Book Minimum: Oreo by Fran Ross Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays By Women by Marcia Aldrich (editor, contributor) Why Won’t You Apologize?: Healing Big Betrayals And Everyday Hurts by Harriet Lerner (coming to Lawrence Public Library in 2017) Unmentionable: The Vi... (more)

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LPL_KateG Mar 22, 2016

This is the book I want everyone to read. Fran Ross wrote this wickedly smart and funny novel in the 1970s and it was re-released in the aughts. Wildly before it's time, Oreo is laugh-out-loud hilarious while also being incredibly thought-provoking and educational.


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Notices

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m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Cf. the pimp and prostitue above. She escapes completely unharmed and the scene is absolutely hilarious, but it might trigger.

m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

Sexual Content: The main character lures a man who tried to use her for phone sex to a house, and then pummels him mercilessly. She also has a run in with a pimp, his prostitutes and the possibility of being raped

m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

Violence: There are at least two or three scenes in which the main character delivers a well-deserved pummeling to a chauvenist man, one in which she is being set up for rape (see below).

m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

Coarse Language: Fran Ross used to work for Richard Pryor. The book isn't riddled with the F bomb, but it's not choir boy language either, especially the Yiddish

Comment

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m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

Okay, this book is simply impossible to review. It's a mix of Woody Allen meets blaxpoitation meets feminist righteousness, all caught up in a black girl nicknamed Oreo whose father [Shmuel] is Jewish (and absent), whose mother [Helen] is black (and mostly absent), whose grandmother [Louise] is very, very light-skinned black (and is the only one who speaks with a southern accent in the house and cooks like an international cooking star) and whose grandfather [James] is very, very dark-skinned black and fluent in Yiddish, when he's not catatonic.
Add to this her system of self-defense, which Ross has called hwip-as and you are in for one bizarre and hilarious ride. There are too many funny and unbelievable scenes to recount. Keep your computer handy if your Yiddish is rusty, because Oreo and the rest of the characters switch effortlessly between African American Vernacular English of the 1970s and Yiddish.
The book is feminist to its core. ("Womanist" had not yet been coined by Alice Walker). And, there is little "PC" about it. But oh boy, what a ride!
It should be experienced at least once.

r
rixonkj
Dec 07, 2018

This book is weird and sly and funny and self-aware and literary. I'm not totally sure what to make of it, but I'm very glad I read it.

LPL_KateG Mar 22, 2016

This is the book I want everyone to read. Fran Ross wrote this wickedly smart and funny novel in the 1970s and it was re-released in the aughts. Wildly before it's time, Oreo is laugh-out-loud hilarious while also being incredibly thought-provoking and educational.

Quotes

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m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

During World War II, James worked as a welder at Sun Shipyard in Chester, Pennsylvania. Every morning for three years, he would stop at Zipstein's Noshery to buy a pickle to take to work in his lunchbox. He would ask for a sour. Zipstein always gave him a half sour. From that time on, James hated Jews.

m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

“From time to time, her dialogue will be rendered in ordinary English, which Louise does not speak. To do full justice to her speech would require a ladder of footnotes and glosses, a tic of apostrophes (aphaeresis, hyphaeresis, apocope), and a Louise-ese/English dictionary of phonetic spellings.”

m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

From the Jewish side of the family Christine inherited kinky hair and dark, thin skin (she was about a 7 on the color scale and touchy). From the black side of her family she inherited sharp features, rhythm, and thin skin (she *was* touchy)."

Age

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m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

mayog thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Summary

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m
mayog
Jan 16, 2019

The story of Christine Schwartz (a.k.a Oreo) and her interracial, intercultural, and linguistically savant family, and how she goes in search of her father and the secret behind her birth

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