Bridgett Davis

Author of
  • The World According to Fannie Davis
    Little, Brown (January, 2019)

Bridgett M. Davis is the author of the memoir, The World According To Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life In The Detroit Numbers (Little, Brown / January 2019). She is also the author of two novels, Into the Go-Slow (Feminist Press, 2014) and Shifting Through Neutral (Amistad, 2004). As a professor at CUNY’s Baruch College, she teaches creative, film and narrative writing, and directs the Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence Program. She is co-founder and curator for Words@Weeksville, a monthly reading series held at Weeksville Heritage Center in Central Brooklyn. She is also writer/director of the award-winning feature film Naked Acts. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Millions, Salon, O, The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Review of Books, The Root and LitHub. A native of Detroit, she’s a graduate of Spelman College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.

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Books by Bridgett

The World According to Fannie Davis

My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers

The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers is Bridgett Davis’ story of growing up in Detroit in the 1960s and 70s while keeping a huge family secret: the fact that the business her mom ran – the one that brought the family out of poverty and into the middle class – was illegal. Bridgett’s mom, Fannie Mai Drumwright Davis Robinson, was a numbers runner, one of only two women in Detroit to successfully run her own Numbers business; this is a story that has never been told.

As a successful adult, Bridgett found herself still burdened by the weight of that family secret: it meant she could never tell the truth about how extraordinary her mother actually was, that she couldn’t fully answer her children’s questions, or publicly celebrate the fact that her mother, in an era when there were almost no opportunities for African-American women, “made a way out of no way” and managed to not only be a stay-at-home mom to her five children, but ensure that Bridgett got the education and the financial security to grow up to be a journalist, a teacher, a writer and a filmmaker–and a homeowner. She felt the time had come to share her story with the larger world.

Seamlessly weaving together personal history, memoir, interviews and cultural study, The World According to Fanny Davis illuminates the life and life-choices of one unforgettable and unconventional woman, while opening a rare and invaluable window on The Numbers – how it worked, and its significance as a means of African-American economic empowerment, not just for one family but in the culture at large, and offering a rare, insider, African-American perspective on Detroit in its heyday. The World According to Fanny Davis is a moving and unforgettable memoir of an extraordinary parent, living in a unique time and place, as seen through the eyes of an admiring yet clear-sighted daughter. This is a memoir that, while revealing the secrets, triumphs and tragedies of one unique family, also shines a light on underrepresented aspects of the American experience.

Praise for The World According to Fannie Davis

Bridgett M. Davis draws a loving portrait of her unforgettable mother who gamed the system and won. Davis is a witness to the journey of the African American strivers of Detroit, but she is also a witness to the evolution of her own remarkable family history. Combining rigorous research with an insider’s access, The World According To Fannie Davis is a triumphant tale of female empowerment. Bridgett Davis' love letter to her mother lights a bold new path, because sometimes leaning in is not enough.

Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

The World According to Fannie Davis is that rare book that successfully combines vivid family memoir with timely social history. As both journalist and daughter Bridgett Davis cracks open how American economic practices kept black families impoverished for generations and how one family, led by one remarkable woman, improbably broke through. I loved this book.

Alysia Abbott, author of Fairyland

Novelist Davis (Into the Go-Slow) honors her mother in this lively and heartfelt memoir of growing up in 1960s and ’70s Detroit. This charming tale of a strong and inspirational woman offers a tantalizing glimpse into the past, savoring the good without sugarcoating the bad.

Publishers Weekly

The World According to Fannie Davis is such a timely, intriguing and well-told story of what it means to come of age during a time when people found so many amazing ways to survive. Fannie’s story is a story that is at once amazingly specific and trail blazingly universal. I couldn’t put this book down.

Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award and author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn

Bridgett Davis's memoir of her mother isn't just about a tough woman working the angles. It's an altogether fresh take on the black experience, and a compelling piece of the American experience. An absorbing and delightful book.

Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World

We know that braving systemic racism is a high-wire act, but what was that experience like in generations past, every day building a safety net for loved ones and community while perched on a quivering tightrope? With this loving look back, Bridgette Davis immortalizes her mother Fannie who, like so many in what Davis calls the “blue-collar bourgeoisie,” improvised her own economy using wit, nerve and, yes, a little luck to provide the benefits of a middle-class life. The payoffs here are many, including this daughter’s loving take on that relentless class of African Americans who made prosperity imaginable for others no matter the odds.

Gregory Pardlo, author of Air Traffic

The World According To Fannie Davis is a world of urban wit, grit and toughness. It is also a world of transformative magic--the magic of feminine strength and grace. It is about a great woman, a great mother and what family can truly be. It is about community, love, ingenuity, economics, survival, luck, will and the battered but beautiful city of Detroit. It is about how things are often very, very different from the way we are taught to think about them.

Mary Gaitskill, author of Somebody with a Little Hammer, and The Mare.

In this admiring and highly compelling memoir, Bridgett Davis tells the story of her beloved mother. This is not a story about capitalizing on degeneracy. It is one of hope and hustling in a world where to have the former almost demanded the latter. This outstanding book is a tribute to one woman but will surely speak to the experiences of many.

Kirkus, starred review
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