A WOMAN'S PLACE by Marita Golden (Doubleday: $16.95; 239 pp.). This is the truncated herstory of three black female students attending an Ivy League college in Boston and their coming of age--a poet, a Muslim wife, an expatriate adventurer. Extremely uneven and hasty in the writing, "A Woman's Place" lacks rich imagery, description, depth, denouement and vision.
Marita Golden says important things regarding the fickleness of white liberalism, interracial marriage, an Africa that suffers under the residue of colonialism, etc. She has too much to say. Stories of marvelous potential remain merely talked over or about. There is no protagonist, no challenge, and no action. Golden renders her characters opaque by having them talk about each other, events, and occasionally about themselves; a muddling in which black, white, male and female blur. Two or three sex scenes discordantly burst upon the reader as if they were obligatory and unpleasant tasks for the author.
Golden pays homage to her heritage; but something is seriously wrong when an event as tumultuous as a revolt in which hundreds are injured or slain is told with all the passion of a yawn. Golden needs yet another novel to fulfill the promise evident in her first, "Migrations of the Heart."