Books: Guiana Belle

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SYLVIA (316 pp.)—Edgar Mittelholzer—John Day ($4).

Sylvia Russell's complexion was pale olive and her eyes were limpid hazelgreen, but her hair was her crowning glory. It was what British Guiana called "Good Hair": it came flaxen straight from her immigrant cockney father and gave no hint, by frizz or kink, that Sylvia's mother was "a low-class girl" of "Buck" (Guiana Indian) and Negro parentage. Sylvia could not claim to belong to "the respectable middle class" of old and established colored families, but she was tony enough to attend...