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Bailey's Cafe

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,593 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
Set in a diner where the food isn't very good and the ambience veers between heaven and hell, this bestselling novel from the author of Mama Day and The Women of Brewster Place is a feast for the senses and the spirit. quot;A virtuoso orchestration of survival, suffering, courage and humor.quot;--New York Times Book Review.
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published February 1st 1993 by Bookcassette (first published 1992)
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Sep 08, 2014 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An artistic, intricately woven band of characters well spoken, alive and jumping off of each page.

This is an outstanding book. Ms Naylor's art for storytelling is remarkable. As soon as I started reading I was engrossed from the first page. I technically do not know why I haven't read more of her books and actually want to kick myself for not reading more of her sooner. Gloria Naylor has this writing style that's really vocal. It's as if she's not an author telling you these phenomenal stories
Aug 16, 2011 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though packed with graphic tales of prostitutes, drug addicts, and criminals this book was REALLY well written. The cafe acts as a kind of emotional limbo, maybe even a Christ-like place of redemption. The concept is intriguing, and the stories heartbreaking rather than horrifying.
Apr 10, 2012 India rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this author. Her use of language is beautiful and she creates really interesting characters. She deals with pretty serious topics which can be overwhelming at times. However, people actually do experience tragedy those sorts of tragedies. She gives a voice to the sadness and traumas in life.
Oct 09, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
my third New York (Harlem/Brooklyn) novel in a row, after 'Daddy was a Number Runner', and 'The Tenants' (Malamud). And all concerned with race and racism. Pure coincidence.

Actually not set in New York, but rather 'in limbo' - Bailey's Café is where people wash up half way through life and tell their stories, mostly of deprivation and prejudice, from Harlem to the deep south, from Chicago and San Francisco, rural and urban. The stories of fighting racism, and maintaining dignity are told in zest
Feb 20, 2015 Kristi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly well-crafted cast of characters that took turns breaking my heart and inspiring me. Naylor's writing is sometimes subtle, but so strong. Every character has such a distinct voice, and a captivating story to tell. The constant themes of suffering, compassion and strength left me feeling all kinds of emotions. MISS MAPLE FOREVER.
Jenny Yates
Dec 29, 2012 Jenny Yates rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t like this book at first, and that’s mainly because there’s too much baseball in the first chapter. It’s a language I don’t speak. It’s also a little obscure in the beginning. Even though there was some beautiful writing, I thought about laying the book aside.

The second chapter was breathtaking. I put it down just because it was too intense to read more immediately. And the next day, I picked it up again. And no, there’s no more baseball after the first chapter.

It’s a very surrealistic
Aug 13, 2008 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Naylor is wonderful writer and her prose is fluid and drags you along its tidal pull. She does veer off into symbolic metaphor-land every once in awhile; however unlike Toni Morrison, it isn't overbearingly pretentious or bogs you down.

With that said, Bailey's Cafe is an entertaining novel but it's less of a novel and more of a collection of short stories. All of characters end up at the cafe at some point, which is a waystation in limbo for people who are at a crossroads in their lives. A plac
East Bay J
Apr 20, 2011 East Bay J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
After finishing Bailey’s Café, I’ve put off writing a review because I’m not really sure what to say. This is the story of a café that exists in some kind of limbo and can only be found by those in need. Interesting concept, good writing, well drawn characters. Getting started with the book, I thought this was going to be a somewhat typical story about a guy and his wife who run a café. Instead, it’s an exploration of the horrors people inflict on one another and on themselves. There are signifi ...more
Oct 15, 2014 Liz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a dismal, depressing book. Could not even get through the entire book. I read for pleasure and there was not pleasure in reading this book. Other books can be unpleasant but the unpleasantness adds to the plot. As far as I could see, nothing would be resolved until the end of this book and I could not stand another 100 pages to find out how the author was going to tie this together. At times I was lost - who is talking - especially in the case of the character who spoke with two different p ...more
Dec 02, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book. It's full of things to analyze and discuss.
Oct 10, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bailey's Cafe is a place where those who are down and out, outsiders, people who have endured life's struggles come, not for the food, the menu seldom changes - Fried chicken on Mondays, Hamburger Tuesdays, Hash Wednesdays, Pork chop Thursdays, Fish on Fridays, open house on the weekends, nor for the atmosphere. I'm not sure what brings them to the Cafe which is open 24 hours. The place is owned by a husband and his wife, Nadine. Though everyone calls him Bailey, it's not his real name. It was t ...more
This is more like 3.5 stars. Gloria Naylor is one of my favorite authors, and while this book didn't blow me away like "Mama Day" and "The Women of Brewster Place," it's still an arresting read and an important one, especially in terms of the character development of the beautiful and complex women and men of color in this novel and their fierce resistance to unimaginable forms of oppression.

The novel is set in Bailey's Cafe, which is located on the edge of things. It's a mystical place where pe
The book had soaring highs and depressed lows, so I have to split the baby and give it three stars. I was moved to actual tears while reading, so there is no denying that the woman can make an emotional connection with her words and make you feel the lives of her ink and paper protagonists. But in the middle of the book, I started to feel like Naylor was less interested in exposing the evils of racism and misogyny, and more interested in torturing as many women as possible. And, it seemed rather ...more
Mar 24, 2015 Ginger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by Gloria Naylor and I have already ordered more books by her. I thought this was going to be more of a chic lit book - easy read. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was an incredible read. This book is more of a series of short stories, all about patrons of Bailey's Café who tend to be a little "dysfunctional" in society - more the misfits. It is set in 1948. It is a wonderful book. Powerful
Liv Michaelson
Feb 20, 2014 Liv Michaelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful and insightful. Must-read.

quote: "From the day you were born I've been speaking to you in a language that I wanted you to master, knowing once you did, there was nothing that could be done to make you feel less than what you are, and I knew that they would stop at nothing to break you-- because you are mine. And I wanted their words to be babble... Babble-- as you learned your own language , set your own standards, began to identify yourself. You see, to accept even a single image in t
Allison Anderson
Wish I had read it before Mama Day! It would have helped me understand sit better! It is more like a smattering of short stores about interesting people rather than a single developed story, but Gloria Naylor manages to bring it all together throughout and at the end without absolutely closing the book with too much finality. The whole layout makes sense when you remember that it is a story with jazz as it's inspiration.
Mar 06, 2014 Jonatta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bailey's Cafe is a collection of short stories rather than a novel. The customers who visit the cafe have a story and reasons for being there. Readers are provided those back stories which are filled with sadness, mystic, tragedy and intrigue. They certainly don't come for the food but are rather drawn to the cafe. Nonetheless, the book is an escape as it brings you to a world unknown and never imagined.
Jul 21, 2015 Valarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have ever read. Miss Maple's story stays in my mind as I teach math in high poverty urban schools. I love math because it is objective. It also resonates with me because of the absurdity of racism. There are many great stories in this book. I have reread it many times and I will never forget it.
Aug 20, 2012 Preston rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During my sophomore year i was assigned to research Gloria Naylor and read one of her books. I read The Women of Brewster Place. Since i enjoyed Naylors style of writing and her views of women in society and their struggles i decided to read Baileys Cafe. Without a doubt probably one of my top five favorite books. Naylor astounds with a novel and characters that are in themselves a small microcosm of the United States in the 50's. Colorful and sometimes even "musical" language in the narration p ...more
Shawne Collins
Jan 17, 2014 Shawne Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading Bailey's Cafe. I especially enjoyed the historical content. Ms. Naylor took me through the emotions of the soldiers at war, the islands where the war took place, and various other places within each characters story. I realized that I tend to enjoy a good story that includes real life events. The book didn't read like a "story" but each characters life story is told from Bailey, the cafe owners, point of view. However, the characters were connected through the cafe and E ...more
Sep 12, 2014 LucidStyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to LucidStyle by: Katharine
Some of the better scenes were disconnected/connected and rather Faulknerian in tone and mood; however much of the work was miserable in displaying overmuch the singular plight of the poor woman. The ending is worthwhile, but it felt like it took a long time, and was a rough road, to get there.
Aug 22, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was very interesting and I would recommend it to other people. Gloria Naylor uses similar writing in all of her books, but it works. She uses short stories to explain the characters. the novel goes through each of the customers and explains their reasons for going to Bailey's Cafe. the Cafe itself seems to be an imaginary place with an endless void in the back of the Cafe. the novel has interesting takes on the subconscious and psychology of people who have problems. i liked this novel ...more
Jul 08, 2010 Samira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the summer of 1997, this book was my closest companion. Bailey's Cafe is a place where travelers go as an escape, at the intersection of very real worlds. That summer, I was living in a tiny town in Jordan, terribly ill and wishing for home for half the summer. The novel is so rich that it provides that escape-the perfect book at the perfect time. It's magical realism done in the best possible way, and , none of them sci-fi. Naylor weaves stories, many quite desperate and heartbreaking, both ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Queen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chronicling the lives of several characters who find themselves in the blandly decorated cafe of San Francisco, Gloria Naylor's Bailey's Cafe sums up what it is to be American and existing in the world. As a person who has read several Gloria Naylor's books, I must say that Bailey's Cafe IS NOT her best piece of fiction writing. The characters seem incomplete. Naylor writes the lives of several women who have all been either sexually exploited, abused drugs, or have a lot of deep problems with m ...more
Sep 29, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I picked this up in the "Classics" section of the library and I thought, how can a book from 1992 be a classic? Well, it should be. This book is about a cafe full of strong characters, all who grew up facing horrible times and struggles yet had the courage to survive them. And, despite all the awful, this book has a happy, hopeful and optimistic ending, which only further emphasizes the willingness of the characters to live life. It is a beautiful read that gives a glimpse of 1948 yet can still ...more
Peter Salva
Mar 31, 2015 Peter Salva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heart-wrenching novel. The character of Miss Maple is such a great inspiration, but every character in this book stands apart in great ways.
Mar 04, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was beautifully written but very disturbing. The majority of the characters live in a whorehouse and these are their stories of how they got there. Violent, sad, and heart wrenching. I read this for a book club and this is not the kind of book that I would normally read. I know there will be a good discussion. Have a friend read this about the same time so you can discuss. I'm confused about the back door of Bailey's Cafe. Many people speak of this book as being layers, but I cannot un ...more
Pei Pei
Mar 25, 2014 Pei Pei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, haunting portraits, and I enjoyed the magical realism that increasingly crept in and then crescendoed at the end.
Fran Thrower
Mar 13, 2014 Fran Thrower rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't think I can add anything more to the critics' review, except: this is an outstanding book.
A Ivy
Jun 15, 2015 A Ivy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sorry, I guess I am missing something. Trying way too hard and not succeeding.
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Gloria Naylor is an African-American novelist whose most popular work, The Women of Brewster Place, was made into a 1984 film starring Oprah Winfrey.

Naylor won the National Book Award for first fiction in 1983 for The Women of Brewster Place. Her subsequent novels include Linden Hills, Mama Day and Bailey's Cafe. In addition to her novels, Naylor has written essays and screenplays, as well as the
More about Gloria Naylor...

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“2)"Even though this planet is round, there are just too many spots where you can find yourself hanging on to the edge just like I was; and unless there's some space, some place, to take a breather for awhile, the edge of the world- frightening as it is- could be the end of the world, which would be quite a pity." (28).” 6 likes
“I never dreamed that she meant lights. Sparkling. Shimmering. Waves of light. We could see them from the front of the cafe. Besides the few customers, everyone who lived on the street was gathered inside. And I mean everyone, even strange little Esther. She'd squeezed herself into the darkest corner of the room, sitting on the floor with her arms wrapped around her bent knees. But even her face was in awe. Silvers. Pearls. Iridescent pinks. They now sprayed out into the sunless room and hit the ceiling. The walls. The floor. Glowing copper. Gilded orange. And all kinds or gold. Sequins of light that swirled and spun through the air. Cascades of light flowing in, breaking up, and rolling like fluid diamonds over the worn tile. Emerald. Turquoise. Sapphire. It went on for hours. I looked over there and there were tears streaming down Gabe's wrinkled face: God bless you, Eve. And finally only the muted glow of a cool aquamarine. Then we heard the baby's first thin cry- and the place went wild.” 6 likes
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