It's hard to believe this book was published to so little acclaim when it first came out in 1974—and that it's languished for so many years in obscurity seems like a crime against culture. This is a work of highly sophisticated intelligence, welded to a freewheeling, absolutley fearless sense of humor—a mix that makes Oreo a wholly unique voice in contemporary fiction, commenting on evergreen issues of identity, representation, language and sexuality. I love this book, and its classy reissue by New Directions is one of the most astute publishing moves of 2015. —Recommended by Elaine & Andy
The best book I have read in years. A truly hilarious, surreal, anarchic and sharp as knives coming of age novel, which didn't find an audience when originally published in 1974....There are so many ideas, diagrams, and varying forms of prose contained within it's hard to summarize why you should read this, but you should. Lampooning race, religion, advertising, social mores, and the American way with a Black superhero teenage girl leading the way. A truly remarkable read. It's a tragedy that this was Ross' only book.
—Recommended by Layla, City Lights Books
Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.
I'm usually very slow to come around to things. It took me two years to 'feel' Wu Tang's first album, even longer to appreciate Basquiat...but I couldn't believe Fran Ross's hilarious 1974 novel Oreo hadn't been on my cultural radar.
—Paul Beatty, New York Times
With its mix of vernacular dialects, bilingual and ethnic humor, aside jokes, neologisms, verbal quirks, and linguistic oddities, Ross's novel dazzles...
Oreo is one of the funniest books I've ever read. To convey Oreo's humor effectively, I would have to use the comedic graphs, menus, and quizzes Ross uses in the novel. So instead, I just settle for, 'You have to read this.'
—Mat Johnson, NPR Books
Oreo has snap and whimsy to burn. It's a nonstop outbound flight to a certain kind of readerly bliss. It may have been first published more than 40 years ago, but its time is now.
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times