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Publisher's Summary

A revealing portrait of one of the most gifted and charismatic, yet least understood, black artists and intellectuals of the 20th century.

Lorraine Hansberry, who died at 34, was by all accounts a force of nature. Although best known for her work A Raisin in the Sun, her short life was full of extraordinary experiences and achievements, and she had an unflinching commitment to social justice, which brought her under FBI surveillance when she was barely in her 20s. While her close friends and contemporaries, like James Baldwin and Nina Simone, have been rightly celebrated, her story has been diminished and relegated to one work - until now. In 2018, Hansberry will get the recognition she deserves with the PBS American Masters documentary Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart and Imani Perry’s multidimensional, illuminating biography Looking for Lorraine.

After the success of A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry used her prominence in myriad ways: challenging President Kennedy and his brother to take bolder stances on Civil Rights, supporting African anti-colonial leaders, and confronting the romantic racism of the Beat poets and Village hipsters. Though she married a man, she identified as lesbian and, risking censure and the prospect of being outed, joined one of the nation’s first lesbian organizations. Hansberry associated with many activists, writers, and musicians, including Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, among others. 

Looking for Lorraine is a powerful insight into Hansberry’s extraordinary life - a life that was tragically cut far too short.

©2018 Imani Perry (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An intimate portrait of the artist as a black woman at the crossroads.... Perry infuses the narrative with a sense of urgency and enthusiasm because she believes Hansberry has something to teach us in these ‘complicated times.’ Impressively, she tells her subject’s story in a tightly packed 200 pages. Perry also smartly delves into the inspirations for Hansberry’s brilliant A Raisin in the Sun and engagingly explores Hansberry’s profound friendships with James Baldwin and Nina Simone.... Throughout this animated and inspiring biography, Perry reminds us that the ‘battles Lorraine fought are still before us: exploitation of the poor, racism, neocolonialism, homophobia, and patriarchy.’” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

Looking for Lorraine is phenomenal. I didn’t know how hungry I was for this intimate portrait until now. It feels as though Ms. Hansberry has walked into my living room and sat down beside me. What an honor and joy to read this. The writing is whip-smart, yet lovely and clear-eyed. What gifts this book, Ms. Perry, and Lorraine Hansberry are to the world.” (Jacqueline Woodson, national ambassador for young people’s literature and National Book Award-winner for Brown Girl Dreaming)

“I have always admired the brilliant Lorraine Hansberry. Now I treasure her even more. Imani Perry’s magnificently written and extremely well researched Looking for Lorraine reclaims for all of us the Lorraine Hansberry we should have had all along, the multifaceted genius for whom A Raisin in the Sun was just the tip of the iceberg. Though Hansberry’s life was brief, her powerful work remains vital and urgently necessary. One can say the same of this phenomenal book, which hopefully will lead more readers to both Hansberry’s published and unpublished works.” (Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I’m Dying)

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    5 out of 5 stars

Inspirational & Beautifully Written

Terrific description and thoughtfulness about the artistic and life journey of Lorraine Hansbury. Whether you are Black, a Women, someone who identifies with sexual orientation still not full accepted, writer, social activist or human who wants to more fully understand this is a great book. Thank you

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maura
  • 11-11-18

Inspirational & Beautifully Written

Terrific description and thoughtfulness about the artistic and life journey of Lorraine Hansbury. Whether you are Black, a Women, someone who identifies with sexual orientation still not full accepted, writer, social activist or human who wants to more fully understand this is a great book. Thank you

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Maura
  • 11-11-18

Inspirational & Beautifully Written

Terrific description and thoughtfulness about the artistic and life journey of Lorraine Hansbury. Whether you are Black, a Women, someone who identifies with sexual orientation still not full accepted, writer, social activist or human who wants to more fully understand this is a great book. Thank you