The World According to Fannie Davis

My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers
Narrated by: Bridgett M. Davis
Length: 10 hrs and 14 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A singular memoir highlighting "the outstanding humanity of black America" that tells the story of one unforgettable mother, her devoted daughter, and the life they lead in the Detroit numbers of the 1960s and 1970s (James McBride)

In 1958, the very same year that an unknown songwriter named Berry Gordy borrowed $800 to found Motown Records, a pretty young mother from Nashville, Tennessee, borrowed $100 from her brother to run a Numbers racket out of her tattered apartment on Delaware Street, in one of Detroit's worst sections. That woman was Fannie Davis, Bridgett M. Davis' mother. 

Part bookie, part banker, mother, wife, granddaughter of slaves, Fannie became more than a numbers runner: she was a kind of Ulysses, guiding both her husbands, five children, and a grandson through the decimation of a once-proud city using her wit, style, guts, and even gun. She ran her numbers business for 34 years, doing what it took to survive in a legitimate business that just happened to be illegal. She created a loving, joyful home, sent her children to the best schools, bought them the best clothes, mothered them to the highest standard, and when the tragedy of urban life struck, soldiered on with her stated belief: "Dying is easy. Living takes guts."

A daughter's moving homage to an extraordinary parent, The World According to Fannie Davis is also the suspenseful, unforgettable story about the lengths to which a mother will go to "make a way out of no way" to provide a prosperous life for her family - and how those sacrifices resonate over time. This original, timely, and deeply relatable portrait of one American family is essential listening.

©2019 Bridgett M. Davis (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Novelist Davis honors her mother in this lively and heartfelt memoir of growing up in the 1960s and '70s Detroit...This charming tale of a strong and inspirational woman offers a tantalizing glimpse into the past, savoring the good without sugarcoating the bad." (Publishers Weekly)

"A remarkable story of a mother...Sharp and unwilling to be hemmed in by the dual restrictions of race and gender, she did what it took to raise a family and to uplift a community...In this admiring and highly compelling memoir, Bridgett Davis tells the story of her beloved mother. This is not a story about capitalizing on degeneracy. It is one of hope and hustling in a world where to have the former almost demanded the latter. This outstanding book is a tribute to one woman but will surely speak to the experiences of many." (Kirkus, starred review)

"A moving portrait... Her writing feels rooted in the city and its changing landscape. Combining historical research with extensive interviews, The World According to Fannie Davis is an engrossing tribute to a vibrant, hardworking, unforgettable woman." (Booklist, review)

What listeners say about The World According to Fannie Davis

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  • 02-15-19

Fantastic

I grew up in Detroit, so this book provided me with a walk down memory lane. I enjoyed living there when the auto industry was booming and many African- Americans reached and maintained middle class status. Many of my family members played the numbers and hit, too. I’m very familiar with the terminology Bridgett used and how this elevated many to a different level of income from time to time. I wish Bridgett much success with her book!

3 people found this helpful

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I liked it

Initially I didn't like it but as I got further in, I dealt enjoyed this book

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Decent story but poor narration

I did enjoy the story though I felt like the constant descriptions of all of the things her mother bought for her got to be a bit much. I felt like that narration sounded like she was just reading from an encyclopedia and didn’t sound like she was telling a story. I was bored at times listening to her.

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To a fellow native Detroiter

Your book was a beautiful and well written story. You blended history and family life.

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Loved the story.

Really could relate to the story. Felt that it was read a bit slowly. The characters were bigger than life

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Loved it!

The narrator's voice was soothing & her pronunciation of words made me enjoy this book even more. I understood family secrets & could relate very well with not being able to tell others, including friends & family about what goes on at home. Fanny did what she had to do & did it with style & grace like many other black mothers did during that time. I remember the numbers & dream books & hearing that somebody hit the number, that's how they paid for that car, or furniture or outfit. Those were the days... This book made me remember my childhood with aunts & uncles & their friends & good times & bad times. I loved it from beginning to end.

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Thanks for the memories.

As a former Detroiter I clearly remember the numbers man and of course I played a few times. More importantly this book was a nostalgic walk in the past. The names the locations brought back memories. When I heard the name Wingate I remembered I went to grade school with his son. The neighborhood off 7 mile Green Acres was our last address and I remember the Frank Lloyd Wright house. The transactions she described are real and vivid. I even remember my mother discussing the Gotham. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

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Numbers

I loved this book. Learned so many things I was unaware of. The narrator was wonderful as well.

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Excellent story.

I really enjoyed this book. It brings back many wonderful memories of growing-up in Detroit.

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amazing journey

This was beautiful and sometimes funny story of a mother and daughter during a unique time and place in America. It is a novel journey for every mother and daughter. This story gave a personal perspective of the lottery its roots and what it has become,