The Queen of Sugar Hill: A Novel of Hattie McDaniel (Paperback)
As seen on The TODAY Show!
Bestselling author ReShonda Tate presents a fascinating fictional portrait of Hattie McDaniel, one of Hollywood’s most prolific but woefully underappreciated stars—and the first Black person ever to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in the critically acclaimed classic film Gone With the Wind.
It was supposed to be the highlight of her career, the pinnacle for which she’d worked all her life. And as Hattie McDaniel took the stage in 1940 to claim an honor that would make her the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award, she tearfully took her place in history. Between personal triumphs and tragedies, heartbreaking losses, and severe setbacks, this historic night of winning best supporting actress for her role as the sassy Mammy in the controversial movie Gone With the Wind was going to be life-changing. Or so she thought.
Months after winning the award, not only did the Oscar curse set in where Hattie couldn’t find work, but she found herself thrust in the middle of two worlds—Black and White—and not being welcomed in either. Whites only saw her as Mammy and Blacks detested the demeaning portrayal. As the NAACP waged an all-out war against Hattie and actors like her, the emotionally conflicted actor found herself struggling daily.
Through it all, Hattie continued her fight to pave a path for other Negro actors, while focusing on war efforts, fighting housing discrimination, and navigating four failed marriages. Luckily, she had a core group of friends to help her out—from Clark Gable to Louise Beavers to Ruby Berkley Goodwin and Dorothy Dandridge.
The Queen of Sugar Hill brings to life the powerful story of one woman who was driven by many passions—ambition, love, sex, family, friendship, and equality. In re-creating Hattie’s story, ReShonda Tate delivers an unforgettable novel of resilience, dedication, and determination—about what it takes to achieve your dreams—even when everything—and everyone—is against you.
As a national bestselling author and award-winning journalist, ReShonda Tate has the credentials, and the passion, to bring stories to life. A highly sought-after motivational speaker/poet, ReShonda is a three-time nominee and previous winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. She has received a plethora of distinguished awards and honors for her journalism, fiction, and poetry writing skills, including an induction into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Texas Literary Hall of Fame. Two of her novels have been made into television movies.
"On the heels of her greatest victory—winning the Oscar—famous actress Hattie McDaniel faces her greatest challenges, as explored in the pages of ReShonda Tate's eye-opening new novel, The Queen of Sugar Hill. In bringing to life the inimitable Hattie against the backdrop of her segregated times, The Queen of Sugar Hill introduces readers to the important, inspiring, heart-wrenching story of the legendary actress whose legacy deserve to be fully understood and celebrated." — Marie Benedict, New York Times bestselling author of The First Ladies and The Personal Librarian
"The Queen of Sugar Hill is a real-life drama. It's historical fiction, and it talks about her setbacks, her heart-breaking losses, and some of her successes...this book is entertaining and it's a page-turner." — Kwame Alexander, New York Times bestselling author
"ReShonda Tate has written a moving, insightful portrayal of a legend I thought that I knew. From the very first page, she locked me into the story and never let me go. I felt like I was living Hattie’s life, traveling with her through all of her loves and all of her losses, all of her tragedies and definitely her triumphs. This beautifully written novel is a brilliant portrayal of a conflicted woman, struggling to find her place in a world that didn’t accept her. Definitely a must-read." — Victoria Christopher Murray, New York Times bestselling author of The First Ladies and The Personal Librarian
"In The Queen of Sugar Hill, ReShonda Tate illuminates the little-known story of Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to ever win an Academy Award for her role in Gone With The Wind. Tate brilliantly depicts the tale of this extraordinary trailblazer and the extraordinary circumstances she overcame in a book that is important and inspiring." — Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Sapphire
"Hattie McDaniel steps out of the pages and into our hearts with this revealing novel about her experiences after winning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Gone With the Wind. Warm and passionate, ambitious and driven, Hattie battles against the studios that try to pigeonhole her, the activists who criticize her, the neighbors who don’t want her living in their district. This is an eye-opening story about a remarkable woman, and I was gripped from the start." — Gill Paul, USA Today bestselling author of A Beautiful Rival
“ReShonda Tate’s The Queen of Sugar Hill is an impeccably researched biographical novel about Hattie McDaniel, the first Black person to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind. I loved this fascinating and beautifully written portrait, brimming with heart, heartbreak, and resilience.” — Jillian Cantor, USA Today bestselling author of Beautiful Little Fools
“ReShonda Tate’s The Queen of Sugar Hill, about Hattie McDaniel’s life, will be one of the stand-outs of the historical fiction season. Not only is the book wonderfully researched, but Tate has written an emotional page-turner about Old Hollywood in all of its horror and beauty. McDaniel was the first Black Oscar-winning actress who should’ve reigned, but the roadblocks were plentiful and exhausting. Nonetheless, in ReShonda Tate’s capable hands, The Queen of Sugar Hill is also a humorous, inspiring, and surprising read you won’t be able to put down.” — Denny S. Bryce, best-selling author of The Other Princess: A Novel of Queen Victoria’s Goddaughter and Wild Women and the Blues
"Reshonda Tate’s new historical fiction, The Queen of Sugar Hill, takes the reader on an intimate drive through the complex and often misunderstood neighborhood where Academy Award-winning actress Hattie McDaniel lived. Tate’s characterization of this champion of human dignity and humble fighter for race advancements is riveting, soulful, and poignant. Her exploration of the chasm between those wanting to work within the system and those rejecting it is as heartbreaking as it is illuminating. The Queen of Sugar Hill is a must-read biographical fiction." — Vanessa Riley, award-winning author of Island Queen and Queen of Exiles
"[The Queen of Sugar Hill] doesn’t magnify the “mammy” caricature that McDaniel was known for, it beautifully showcases her highs and lows within the industry, and highlights her friendships with both Black and White people in Hollywood. There are strong themes of resilience, perseverance, and overcoming within this book, and it also sheds light on old Hollywood." — Essence
“This is best-selling author Tate’s first historical fiction title, and what a novel it is! Her portrayal of McDaniel is magnificent, and Tate has a unique ability to bring out this strong, resilient, and passionate woman from the page into life. Those who enjoy character-centric historical fiction and Hollywood biopics will savor it." — Library Journal (starred review)
"The Queen of Sugar Hill is an eye-opening look at American history and the undergrowth of racism. But it also shows the strength and determination of one woman who knew herself, who knew what she wanted, and would stop at nothing to achieve her goals. I highly recommend The Queen of Sugar Hill for its honesty and for telling a story of perseverance." — Romance Reviews Today
"The novel shines in its portrayal of the movie world and at McDaniel’s Sugar Hill home. A must-read for fans of Tate’s Jasmine series coauthor Victoria Christopher Murray (The First Ladies, 2023), this novel will also appeal to fans of biographical fiction about strong female characters, including Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones (2018)." — Booklist
"Tate brings Hattie McDaniel to life in a sympathetic but honest manner that had me rooting for her even when I didn’t agree with her decisions... Historical-fiction fans will love this one." — The Buzz Magazines