Shaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women

Overview

"Not since Breaking Ice has an anthology so freed the spirits of African American women."—Ai

Showcasing the newest generation of black women writers, including ZZ Packer, Edwidge Danticat, and Shay Youngblood, Shaking the Tree gathers twenty-three voices that came of age in the wake of the civil rights, black arts, gay rights, and feminist movements. Their literature embodies the tragedies and triumphs of contemporary black women in their ...

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Overview

"Not since Breaking Ice has an anthology so freed the spirits of African American women."—Ai

Showcasing the newest generation of black women writers, including ZZ Packer, Edwidge Danticat, and Shay Youngblood, Shaking the Tree gathers twenty-three voices that came of age in the wake of the civil rights, black arts, gay rights, and feminist movements. Their literature embodies the tragedies and triumphs of contemporary black women in their struggle to negotiate a sense of individual identity beyond the limited scope of gender and race.

Shaking the Tree offers a panorama of both fiction and memoir, revealing perspectives as diverse as they are dynamic: asha bandele recounts how she fell in love with a prisoner charged with murder; Rebecca Walker explores a childhood split between disparate racial and cultural landscapes; ZZ Packer remembers her near-abduction from summer camp at a time when local black children were being found murdered; Danzy Senna and Carolyn Ferrell tell tales about being young and biracial in a society that sees only in black and white.

This anthology is as urgent as it is historical—these voices are the future of American literature.

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Editorial Reviews

Maya Angelou
“Ms. Danquah has indeed shaken a literary tree. The fruit that fell down will nourish readers for a long time, and probably the best thing I can say and I realize the most selfish is, 'At last, a number of older black women writers can stop holding their breath and exhale.'”
Ms.
“All [these stories] shape a more inclusive, sharper-focus understanding: one that reflects the expansive, untidy, outside-the-boundary lives lived today.”
Library Journal
There is a common thread that connects these mostly memorable selections. All of the voices are young, writing primarily about relationships: between a wife and her imprisoned husband; a sister and her jailed brother; interracial couples; a lesbian couple; a mother and her daughter; and more. These are not new stories as the subtitle implies but rather excerpts from larger works, with the exception of a personal essay by ZZ Packer called "The Stranger." Among the gems are asha bandele's "Home," with her thoughts on why she became a prisoner's wife; Danquah's memoir revealing her bout with depression; Dana Johnson's "Markers," an interesting tale involving a black woman living with an Italian man and their volatile life together; Lisa Jones's autobiographical essay on her trip to the Bahamas and her discovery regarding color, class, and race; Catherine E. McKinley's piece on growing up biracial with her Scotch-Irish adoptive parents; Itabari Njeri's obsession with and love for a hopeless womanizer and how she got revenge when he broke her heart; and Shay Youngblood's novel about a black woman living in Paris as an au pair and falling in love with a white musician. Though admirable, with some excellent contributions, this anthology would have soared with more original material. Recommended for most public libraries.-Ann Burns, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325805
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/19/2004
  • Pages: 294
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Meri Nana-Ama Danquah is the author of a memoir, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression.
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Table of Contents

The Incoming Wave: An Introduction
"Home" 5
From Black Ice 13
From Mama's Girl 23
From Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression 32
"Children of the Sea" 43
"Beginning Again" 60
"Wonderful Teen" 72
"Markers" 85
"It's Racier in the Bahamas" 102
From The Serpent's Gift 111
"July 1978" 122
"What's Love Got to Do with It?" 131
"The Stranger" 152
"April 1974 - Johnson Creek" 162
From The Pagoda 175
"Leila, 1998" 187
"The Body of Luce Rivera" 197
"The Wall of Pain" 206
From Girl in the Mirror: Three Generations of Black Women in Motion 218
"Nepenthe" 230
"Larchmont" 238
"On Our Way to Beautiful" 252
"Lover" 263
Contributors 283
Acknowledgments 289
Credits 291
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