Cover image for In search of satisfaction
In search of satisfaction
Cooper, J. California.
Personal Author:
First Anchor Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1995.

Physical Description:
xii, 351 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



With In Search Of Satisfaction , Cooper gracefully portrays men and women, some good and others wickedly twisted, caught in their individual thickets of want and need on a once-grand plantation.

In Yoville, "a legal town-ship founded by the very rich for their own personal use," a freed slave named Josephus fathers two daughters, Ruth and Yinyang, by two different women. His desire to give Yinyang and himself money and opportunities oozes through the family like an elixir. In seeking the legacy left by their father, Ruth and Yinyang pull each other, their families, and their Yoville neighbors into a vortex of ever-powerful emotion.

Author Notes

J. California Cooper was born in Berkeley, California in 1932. She was an award-winning playwright, novelist, and short story writer. She wrote 17 plays and received a 1978 Black Playwright Award for Strangers. She wrote several short story collections including A Piece of Mine, Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns, and The Future Has a Past. Homemade Love received the 1989 American Book Award and Funny Valentine was made into a 1999 TV movie. Her novels included Family, The Wake of the Wind, Life Is Short but Wide, and Some People, Some Other Place. She received the James Baldwin Award and the Literary Lion Award from the American Library Association in 1988. She died on September 20, 2014 at the age of 82.

(Bowker Author Biography) J. California Cooper is the author of five collections of short stories, including Homemade Love, winner of the 1989 American Book Award, and the novels The Wake of the Wind, Family, and In Search of Satisfaction. She lives in northern California.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The author's note that opens Cooper's new novel declares: "I cannot think of anyone . . . who is not in search of satisfaction." Most readers would agree. But the several generations of characters (black and white, rich and poor) who populate Cooper's fictional Yoville have various definitions of what they need, and they use both good and evil tools to meet those needs. As in Family and the short stories in The Matter Is Life (both 1991), Cooper's compassionate but demanding moral vision animates her fiction. In a voice that blends elements of oral history, fable, and parable, her intrusive, judgmental, sometimes almost incantatory narrator tells stories of the descendants of an ex-slave named Josephus Josephus from the years after the Civil War to the late 1920s, as well as those descendants' often surprising involvements with the rich but troubled white family who dominates the town. Josephus' children (and his grandchildren) fall on both sides of the color line; they--and members of the wealthy Befoe family--sometimes choose the path of God and sometimes the ways of Satan. After a slow start, Cooper's latest inexorably involves the reader in the moral dilemmas and decisions of its well-developed characters. (Reviewed August 1994)0385467850Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

American Book Award-winner Cooper (for the short-story collection Homemade Love) sets her second novel (after Family) in Yoville, a small legal township outside New York City. There, this preachy intergenerational saga traces the intersecting lives of two families of wealthy white landowners, the Krupts and the Befoes, and the descendants of Josephus Josephus, a former slave who's the lover of the perpetually drunk Krupt matriarch, Victoria. The birth of a fair-skinned daughter, Yinyang, from this temporary union motivates Josephus to plan his escape to a better life by stashing away much of the Krupts' wealth while poisoning them. Cooper's highly moralistic tale centers around the families of Yinyang and her half-sister, Ruth (born of an African American mother), as they fumble through bursts of prosperity and poverty. In the author's explicitly Christian universe, fast money corrupts, so it's inevitable that tragedy will ensue once Ruth and her lover happen upon Josephus's hidden treasure. Meanwhile, in the desperate Befoe household, controlling an internationally powerful empire only obscures satisfaction as greed and ambition lead to incest, retardation and soullessness. Though Cooper's storytelling is at times effective, her pietistic tone and emphasis on Satan's complicity in acts of evil (which the characters consider ``satisfaction'') may alienate less religiously inclined readers. Author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Cooper's newest work may provoke strong emotions but not much sympathy for the often misguided townspeople of Yoville, where Josephus, a freed slave, schemes to gain money and seek opportunities for himself and his daughter, Yinyang. Readers may be disgusted by the unbelievable display of greed, best exemplified by Carlene-the queen of avarice-or bored by the sometimes irritatingly didactic tone. On the other hand, they will relish Cooper's credible rendition of Southern speech patterns, for which she has been heartily praised. Although readers "in search of satisfaction" may not find it here, they should still scrutinize this award-winning author's earlier works, including, most recently, The Matter Is Life (LJ 6/1/91) and Family (LJ 12/90).-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.