These Hands I Know: African-American Writers on Family / Edition 1

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These Hands I Know offers readers the first-ever intimate view of the inner workings of black family life from the point of view of prose and poetry writers. This collection of seventeen essays includes portraits of fathers, mothers, nieces, brothers, grandparents, husbands, wives, and daughters—in short the full spectrum of absolute humanity in contemporary black families. Here, in letter form, a man speaks to his aunt, the family matriarch. A daughter rejects her father’s ideas of African-American identity. A young woman holds her niece in her hands for the very first time. And a son faces his father as an old man and finally comes to terms with his failings. These Hands I Know seeks to gather a resolutely honest picture of family life, however painful or joyous that truth may be.

"Family life is an insistent vessel traveling the space of our struggles to love and to be loved. . . . Africans and their descendants in America have always been nothing more and nothing less than human. If anything is constant and universal, it is suffering—personal, social, and political. If these essays offer anything, it is the affirmation of humanity."—From the Introduction by Afaa Michael Weaver

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Contributors include:
Fred D'Aguiar Tara Betts Gwendolyn Brooks Karen Chandler Edwidge Danticat Jarvis Q. DeBerry Gerald Early Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Lise Funderburg Walter Warren Harper Honorée Fanonne Jeffers Trent Masiki E. Ethelbert Miller Marilyn Nelson Kalamu ya Salaam Della Scott Alice Walker

Also available by Afaa Michael Weaver
Multitudes: Poems Selected and New

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his introduction, Weaver (English, Simmons Coll.) states accurately that this collection reveals "the inner workings of African-American families." Included in this remarkable compilation are 17 pieces, ranging from first-person narratives to poetry and even epistles, that honor mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and other family members in honest and sometimes painful ways. The contributors include well-known authors like Gwendolyn Brooks, Karen Chandler, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Trent Masiki, and Alice Walker; newer writers Jarvis Q. DeBerry and Della Scott also offer testimonies. Throughout, the themes explored include death, abandonment, abuse, parenthood, segregation, racism, and sexism. What results is a series of intimate portraits that reveal family life as "an insistent vessel traveling the space of our struggles to love and be loved." Such struggle is inevitable, for as we see, not only must African American families address typical family problems but these problems are complicated by racism, economic struggle, and urban conflicts. Riveting and often emotionally charged, this work is highly recommended for all academic and large public libraries. Erica Swenson Danowitz, American Univ. Lib., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781889330723
  • Publisher: Sarabande Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Up the Hill 3
Roy Lee DeBerry 21
A Son in Shadow 31
The Tail of Color 53
Keziah 67
My Country 'Tis of Thee 81
Letter from Monticello 99
A Curious Absence 107
My Cleaning Lady 121
From I'm Katherine: A Memoir 135
Peace Offerings 163
The Future in My Arms 177
Making Noise 183
Brothers and Sisters 199
A Racial Education, Part Two 207
Fathering Words 217
Spirit Family of the Streets 229
The Editor 237
Contributors 239
Acknowledgments 247
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