Eva is notorious for keeping her secrets, only revealing her life—if that’s what she does—once it’s seemingly over. The narrator of Jones’s stunning second novel (published in 1976 and more vital than ever), Eva has been sentenced to a prison for the criminally insane for killing and mutilating her lover. Locked in with her memories—and a volatile cell mate who bates and laughs at her—she obsessively replays thirty+ years of verbal and physical abuse by men. As she tells and retells her story she also relates those of other Black women, making the novel an important act of witnessing—and essential reading. But beyond the unblinking look at Black women’s brutalization, as well as how the currents of violence also damage the men, the book is valuable for Jones’s jaw-dropping literary skill. Eva’s interior monologue is a mesmerizing weave of repetition and rhythm; intercutting multiple scenes and voices—often two or three different ones simultaneously—Jones impeccably captures oral cadences to convey the textures of people caught in anger, pain, and frustrated longing.
Eva's Man, by Gayl Jones