BOOKS: Wary Friends

Grace and wit endow a best-selling novel about race

For some people, diversity has become a dirty word. White men fear that in its name they will lose their jobs and that Hillary Rodham Clinton herself will replace them with black, lesbian single mothers. Minorities worry that no matter how many degrees they have, their white colleagues may view them as underqualified beneficiaries of a quota. Bebe Moore Campbell's captivating new novel, Brothers and Sisters (Putnam; 476 pages; $22.95), takes the notion of diversity and scrapes away all the myths and fears with which it has become encrusted.

The book's main character is Esther Jackson, an African American who is...

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