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Roy's novel Lady Moses a hit

By Sally Harris

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 21 - February 19, 1998

Lady Moses, the debut novel of Virginia Tech Alumni Distinguished Professor of English Lucinda Roy, is a novel of "passionate characters in extraordinary situations," a novel that explores relationships between mothers and daughters, between men and women, between people and their ancestry, between friends, and between enemies.
The story of Jacinta Moses, born in London to a black African writer and a white British actress, addresses issues of race and of being both black and white; but it is more a book about characters, in particular Moses, who employs her creativity, intelligence, and strength to forge an identity. The book begins in Moses's childhood, when her beloved father, whose words spun stories that would shape her life, died and her mother descended slowly into madness. The story takes Moses through a marriage to a white American who cannot accept their handicapped child and into her father's African homeland, where she finds love and experiences that change her life forever.
Lady Moses received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly. The reviewer called Roy's book "a dazzling debut, an enchanting story about a woman whose life is fraught with disaster and blessed by love." In handling a complex plot "with impressive authority as she tackles themes of racial identity, mental illness and female self reliance," the reviewer said, Roy presents characters that are "headstrong, selfish, wise and tender," characters who "make mistakes, have regrets and learn from them." The review praises Roy's "deft prose," which "gracefully expresses {the characters') humor, their pain and their moments of joy and transcendence."
In addition to being a novelist, Roy is a poet, artist, educator, and scholar. She wrote Lady Moses, which was the first debut novel published by Harper's new imprint called Harper Flamingo, while serving as a professor of English and as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Roy has been at Virginia Tech since 1985, first as lecturer of English. She was named assistant professor in 1987, associate professor in 1991, and professor in 1997. In 1993, she was named assistant dean for projects in the College of Arts and Sciences at Virginia Tech and, in 1994, associate dean for curriculum, outreach, and diversity, a position she left in 1997 to concentrate on writing and teaching. Roy held the Gloria D. Smith two-year endowed professorship in black studies until May 1997 and was awarded an Alumni Distinguished Professorship in English in 1997.
As associate dean, Roy had worked with the college's Cultural Diversity Committee and served on the university's Academic Council for Outreach. She was instrumental in the development of on-line courses and Internet-based educational strategies and, as a result, was asked to speak across the country on instructional technology. Besides serving on several instructional-technology task forces, Roy helped initiate several new programs using technology to benefit students and faculty members, including Cyberschool, ACCESS, VTOPS, Service-Learning, Swap '94, and `A'-Tech.
Roy won the 1994 Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize for a book of poetry, and, as part of the award, The Humming Birds was published in 1995. She is the author of another book of poetry, Wailing the Dead to Sleep, published in London in 1988. Her collections of poetry have been reviewed in Publisher's Weekly (also a starred review), QBR, The Library Journal, The Journal of West Indian Literature, and other magazines. Lady Moses also will be published by Virago/Little Brown in England.