I may be hard put to classify the latest work of noted poet, historian, literary critic, linguist, and Africanist Kamau (Eddie) Brathwaite, but I have no problem describing it - compelling, riveting, unforgettable! Begun when Brathwaite received the devastating news that his wife Doris (his Zea Mexican) was dying of cancer, it is a paean to her, a record of his efforts to deal with her dying, death, and absence, an account of their relationship, and an autobiographical confessional. The Zea Mexican Diary includes diary entries, letters, memorates, an epigraph, expressions of sympathy, confessions, autobiographical narrative, poems - but whatever one calls it, I found it to be the most poetic, most beautifully rendered, most extraordinary expression of love for a Black woman that I have ever read. The grief that the reader experiences at the tragic and premature death of the beautiful and talented and productive Doris Brathwaite is balanced by the joy of knowing that she was so passionately loved. We cannot help but be moved by the eloquent expression of his love and adoration of his wife; rare in our literature is such a total devotion, admiration, appreciation, and passion for a wife, especially one of color. Black women readers, in particular, will be touched by some of these affective, poignant passages.

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Fall 1994

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1994/1995, Southern Illinois University's Department of English Language and Literature. This article first appeared in Drumvoices Revue: 4 (1994/1995), 45-48.

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