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Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to the Present
     

Children of the Night: The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, 1967 to the Present

by Gloria Naylor
 

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In 1969, Little, Brown and Company published The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, edited by Langston Hughes - the classic compendium of African-American short fiction from 1897 to 1967. Now, a quarter of a century later, Gloria Naylor has compiled an encore volume, Children of the Night, bringing this extraordinary series up to date. Gathering together the most

Overview

In 1969, Little, Brown and Company published The Best Short Stories by Black Writers, edited by Langston Hughes - the classic compendium of African-American short fiction from 1897 to 1967. Now, a quarter of a century later, Gloria Naylor has compiled an encore volume, Children of the Night, bringing this extraordinary series up to date. Gathering together the most gifted black writers of our time - from 1967 to the present - Naylor has assembled a rich and varied collection of stories. The portrait that emerges of the African-American experience in the post-Civil Rights era is stirring, compelling, sometimes disturbing, and certainly provocative. Naylor has arranged the stories thematically so the reader focuses on a particular subject - slavery, for example, or the family. In the hands of different writers, these themes provide a wealth and variety of human experience. The stories are more than testimonies of the long battle for survival. From a young woman's struggles with her barren faith in Alice Walker's lyrical "The Diary of an African Nun" to an innocent man's involvement in a horrifying act of violence in Ann Petry's "The Witness", they are, as Naylor states in her introduction, "examples of affirmation: of memory, of history, of family, of being". They are stories for all of us "at the beginning: of mankind as a species; of America as a nation; of the African-American as a full citizen".

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Children of The Night is an outstanding collection of fiction by African-American writers, deftly edited by Gloria Naylor, who resisted the inclination to rely on chronology as an organizing tool. For readers familiar with the works gathered within this anthology, the omission of editor's notes is minor. Ms. Naylor has collected several outstanding writers including Pulitzer Prize-winning Rita Dove, science fiction author Samuel Delaney, the fiery James Baldwin, the ever-popular John Edgar Wideman, Alice Walker, and Terry McMillan. Children of The Night is a gem.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The ``best'' short stories seems an oddly cliquish categorization for any treasury of African American writing, if only because black authors have long expressed displeasure at their own exclusion from the canon. Yet this superb collection lives up to its billing; the 37 stories unabashedly depict the great diversity of black life. Compiled by Naylor (The Women of Brewster Place), the anthology includes such familiar names as Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Charles Johnson, Ralph Ellison, Jamaica Kincaid and Ntozake Shange, and such relative newcomers as Edwige Danticat. In their tales, characters normally found in the wings of fiction move to center stage, and some conventional literary perspectives (as perceived by white Americans) are turned inside out. In the stories about slavery, literature challenges mythical history as a source of authority about the past. Sherley Anne Williams's ``Meditation on History'' is by turns ironic and heartrending in its account of a slave uprising from the points of view of the aggrieved, patronizing master and the desperate slaves. Likewise, depictions of plantation life by John Edgar Wideman, Samuel Delaney and Carolivia Herron explode the nostalgic myth of gentility and loss exemplified by Gone with the Wind. James Baldwin's ``Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone,'' as well as coming-of-age narratives by Toni Cade Bambara and Harold Gordon, features protagonists looking back to that moment when their vague, pervasive uneasiness culminates in bitter recognition of disenfranchisement. Freed from ideological constraints, many of the writers lead their characters bravely through the shadowy realm of racial ambivalence. The collection, in fact, highlights an African American tradition that has itself come of age, one that is poised to irrevocably alter the country's literary sensibilities. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Both these collections are fabulous. Although some authors-e.g., Rita Dove, Alice Walker, Ann Petry-appear in both works, there is no repetition of material, and each title contains stories by many less-familiar authors. There are a few major differences in emphasis. Revolutionary Tales is chronological, starting in 1859, and its focus is the work of African American women. Children of the Night includes male and female authors, stressing the period 1967 to the present. The former has useful annotations at the beginning of each piece, while the latter has tried to provide a sequel to the well-received short story collection of 1969 (Best Short Stories by Black Writers), edited by Langston Hughes. In her editor's note, Naylor (Bailey's Cafe, LJ 9/1/92) makes it clear that her choices are bound together by differing treatment of the same subject and by geographic location. Both books include biographical information about their respective contributors, but Revolutionary Tales is more detailed. Readers who want a glimpse of the breadth of African American life will not be disappointed by either work. If there is room in your library budget, buy copies of both.-Susan M. Olcott, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Ohio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316599238
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
02/01/1997
Series:
Short Story Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
592
Sales rank:
436,221
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.32(d)

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