Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

by Emmanuel S. Nelson
     
 

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During the last two decades, African American writers have emerged as a distinct and dominant force in world literature. This force has been gathering momentum since the 1950s, when James Baldwin published some of his most compelling works and Ralph Ellison stunned the literary establishment with his dazzling Invisible Man (1952). Empowered by the Civil

Overview

During the last two decades, African American writers have emerged as a distinct and dominant force in world literature. This force has been gathering momentum since the 1950s, when James Baldwin published some of his most compelling works and Ralph Ellison stunned the literary establishment with his dazzling Invisible Man (1952). Empowered by the Civil Rights Movement and revitalized by the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s, this force became more potent and pervasive. The publication of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye in 1970 was a major event in the literary history of the United States. With a voice as original as America itself, she began to conquer the English language and redefine the international literary landscape. Along with Morrison, scores of African American writers have mapped bold new territories and firmly entrenched themselves in the forefront of contemporary American literature. This reference book is a guide to the lives, works, and achievements of 79 contemporary African American novelists.

Through alphabetically arranged entries written by expert contributors, this volume offers lively, concise, and current information about these writers. Each entry begins with a biographical sketch of the author, provides a judicious critical assessment of the author's major works and themes, gives a representative sample of the critical responses the author's novels have elicited, and concludes with a selected bibliography that lists the author's publications as well as useful secondary material. Included are major figures, such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison. There are also entries for many noteworthy but lesser known figures, such as Tina McElroy Ansa, Bebe Moore Campbell, Randall Kenan, Reginald McKnight, Marita Golden, and Arthur Flowers. Some are popular writers with mass appeal, such as Terri McMillan and Frank Yerby; others, such as Octavia E. Butler, are known for their science fiction. Still others are distinguished poets or playwrights who have also published one or more significant novels. Of the 79 novelists profiled, 41 are women, and roughly a dozen have identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Thus the volume demonstrates the enormous diversity of these writers and the breadth of their contribution to world literature.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This volume provides biographical, critical, and bibliographical material on 79 black writers (41 of them women), ranging from such luminaries as Alice Walker to lesser-known artists like Philip Lewis. In collecting pieces on a spectrum of novelists, this book could serve a useful purpose, but it is marred by several flaws. First, there are some notable omissions, including Amiri Baraka and Rosa Guy. More importantly, some of the entries are of uneven quality. The book would have benefited from more rigorous editing to update information, check facts, correct inconsistencies in style, and tighten the writing. It is most valuable for the pieces on several recent and/or overlooked writers who have not yet received the critical attention they deserve (e.g., Melvin Dixon, Marita Golden). For other authors, readers will be better served by African American Writers (LJ 6/1/91) or the volumes on black writers in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.Louis J. Parascandola, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY
Booknews
This introduction to the contemporary African American novel highlights 79 writers whose works thematize not only racism and its devastating implications but a wide range of issues and concerns. Each entry begins with relevant biographical information on the novelist, offers a critical commentary on his or her works, provides an overview of the critical reception accorded, and concludes with a selected bibliography that lists the primary works and the secondary sources. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313305016
Publisher:
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
02/28/1999
Pages:
552
Product dimensions:
6.34(w) x 9.48(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
1330L (what's this?)

Meet the Author

EMMANUEL S. NELSON is Professor of English at the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is the author of more than 30 articles on various international literatures in English, and his books include Reworlding: The Literature of the Indian Diaspora (1992), Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (1993), and Writers of the Indian Diaspora: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (1993), all available from Greenwood Press.

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