Urban Fiction Spotlight: Daddy Was a Numbers Runner


by Louise Meriwether

Pub Date: 1986


 Chosen by Essence magazine as book club selection, this beloved modern classic tells the poignant story of a spirited young woman’s coming of age in -Depression-era Harlem. While 12-year-old Francie Coffin’s world and family threaten to fall apart, this remarkable young heroine must call upon her own wit and endurance to survive amidst the treacheries of racism and sexism, poverty and violence. “The novel’s greatest achievement lies in the strong sense of black life that it conveys: the vitality and force behind the despair . . . a most -important novel.”-New York Times Book Review


Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl, this popular novel documents the disintergration of a black family in Harlem in the 1930s. A compelling, readable, occasionally funny work, it vividly illuminates the life of the ghetto, not just the despair and the violence, but the pride and the vitality as well.

More on the Author: Louise Jenkins Meriwether was the third of five children and the only daughter. Her parents, Marion Lloyd Jenkins and Julia Jenkins, had migrated from South Carolina to New York in search of work. Meriwether spent her youth in Harlem. She graduated from Central Commercial High School in Manhattan and received a B.A. in English from New York University. She received an M.A. in journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles

One of my all time favorite books and a clear example that the genre of urban fiction is far too broad to be limited to the idea that it simply glorifies drug dealers and criminals. –Meesha

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