Shay Youngblood’s debut novel, Soul Kiss, received accolades from reviewers and writers alike. The Washington Post hailed it as “intelligent and erotic … immensely engrossing and satisfying,” while The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it “exquisite.” Tina McElroy Ansa described it as “extraordinary … lyrical, intimate, funny, unsettling, enthralling.” Now, in her second novel, Youngblood explores the endeavor of a creative coming-of-age, and infuses her story with the same mesmerizing, lush language and impressionistic style that won her so many fans the first time around.
Black Girl in Paris wends its way around the mythology of Paris as a city that has called out to African-American artists. Like James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, and Josephine Baker before her, Youngblood’s heroine leaves her home, in the American South, nurturing a dream of finding artistic emancipation in the City of Light. She experiments freely, inhabiting different incarnations–artist’s model, poet’s helper, au pair, teacher, thief, and lover–to keep body and soul together, to stay afloat, heal the wounds of her broken heart, discover her sexual self, and, finally, to wrestle her dreams of becoming a writer into reality.
Youngblood’s lyricism, as effortless as an inspired improvisation, and her respect for the tradition she depicts create a natural tension between old and new, reverence and innovation, and tell a story at once timeless and immediate.