The Queen of Sugar Hill: A Novel of Hattie McDaniel

Morrow. Jan. 2024. 432p. ISBN 9780063291072. pap. $19.99. F
Tate’s newest novel (following Miss Pearly’s Girls) is a moving fictional portrait of Hattie McDaniel, the first African American woman to win an Academy Award, for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. The book follows Hattie’s life from the night of her Oscar win in 1940 up until her death in 1952. McDaniel defies all attempts at pigeonholing her and works hard at being a trailblazer for Black actors. After her Oscar win, she faces criticism from Black groups such as the NAACP, for playing the racialized “Mammy” role, as well as stereotyping and discrimination from whites. However, Hattie has the energy, the love, the bravery, and the resilience to have a life full of professional triumphs and defeats, personal losses and wins, and to spearhead battles against discriminatory practices. This is best-selling author Tate’s first historical fiction title, and what a novel it is! Her portrayal of McDaniel is magnificent, and Tate has a unique ability to bring out this strong, resilient, and passionate woman from the page into life.
VERDICT Readers will laugh and cry at Hattie McDaniel’s successes and share in the frustrations and anger at her treatment. Those who enjoy character-centric historical fiction and Hollywood biopics will savor it.
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