Bailey's Cafe
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Bailey's Cafe

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,826 ratings  ·  85 reviews
/NAYLOR Welcome to Bailey's Cafe, the most mythically real eating place you've ever walked into. The restaurant is a magnet that draws a variety of outcasts, each with a story to tell. One would call them misfits all, but in the magical aura of Bailey's Cafe as a new year approaches, each beomes a universal creature of bibl
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published September 10th 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 1992)
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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.
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.
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...more
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...more
Apr 20, 2011 J rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
This was a fascinating book. It's full of things to analyze and discuss.
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...more
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
Liv Michaelson
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...more
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Lovely, haunting portraits, and I enjoyed the magical realism that increasingly crept in and then crescendoed at the end.
Fran Thrower
Don't think I can add anything more to the critics' review, except: this is an outstanding book.
Interesting series of short stories. I would love to see this developed into a movie or mini-series.
Maybe it was the disjointed way in which I read this book (a few pages here and there), but the stories themselves often felt disjointed. There were several which were really powerful and spoke to gender and racial issues (specifically the one about the store owner and his father), but I found myself spending a lot of time reminding myself which story I was on and which character we were talking about. The ending was powerful in that all the characters had in common a safe place in the cafe and...more
I love the way Naylor intertwines the different stories, transitioning from one to the next without it feeling jumpy. And the concept of a cafe to go to when you're in a state of limbo is very appealing. I hope that I can find Bailey's should I ever need it. Most of all, though, I'm impressed with the way Naylor told all of these tales, many quite desperate and heartbreaking, both realistically and without leaving me depressed. There was no sappy ending, no sudden happiness that appeared from no...more
The stories of the women are well thought-out and most of them are heart-breaking and beautiful. However, I found the mysticism aspect of the book to be lacking. I didn't much care for the idea of the back room at Bailey's. I also felt that Mariam's story (the most tragic in my opinion) could have had so much more detail and been the arc of the book that held the stories together, but Naylor treats her more like a throw-away character. The book was satisfying to finish, but left a taste in my mo...more
A book club read.

This was a lot like The Women of Brewster Place: sad stories about women with terrible lives. It had more magical realism, though. It was ok, even engrossing at points. I found the jumping between voices a bit confusing at times (in one paragraph Nadia will be speaking, and in the next it's Eve, and then back again). And overall, I didn't find the narrative that cohesive. It was more like a short story collection than a novel, but the individual stories wouldn't stand up on thei...more
Feb 07, 2008 Lanier rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women and storytellers
Like reading similiar books by the same author, usually the first one you read is the benchmark.Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale overshadows her second effort, Disappearing Acts, but the latter has its highs and strengths. Naylor's Cafe was better in many ways that Brewster's Place can't compare. However, Brewster's metaphysical beats out Cafe's mysticism. Both have more realism and should be taken as vignettes of Americana: the plights and triumphs of women.
Richael Faithful
Excellent novel. Naylor's prose really penetrates into the enduring human struggle, particularly for so many women, who are abused and forgotten, over and over again. It's a haunting sort of story. Some of the narration is clunky but it is hardly a distraction from the gut-wretching stories that she describes about abuse, neglect, shame, pain, triumph, and freedom. A real gift.
This book was well-written and holds the reader's interest from story to story. However, I kept hoping that the characters' stories or chapters would end up integrated--that they'd all be tied together into a central plotline...which they weren't. It was a good book...but in my opinion, would have been a GREAT book if a greater thematic or character unification had been accomplished.
Emily P
This book snagged me from page one and threw me out, gasping, at the other end. As corny as it sounds, I both laughed aloud and wept during the course of the novel, which managed to feel firmly rooted in the real world while weaving in the fantastical. The stories contained in its pages were deeply painful yet deeply healing. Loved it and would read it again in a heartbeat.
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Gloria Naylor (b. January 25, 1950 in New York City) is an African American novelist. Her novel The Women of Brewster Place was adapted into a 1989 film of the same name by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions.

She was the first child to Roosevelt Naylor and Alberta McAlpin and in 1963 moved to Queens with her family. She joined the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1968. She believes she has been subject to min...more
More about Gloria Naylor...
The Women of Brewster Place Mama Day Linden Hills The Men of Brewster Place: A Novel 1996

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“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.” 5 likes
“3)"One man's weed is another man's flower." (115).” 4 likes
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