Best of '93: African-American Literature

Article excerpt

Three nervy sisters assemble for their mother's (Mudear) funeral in "Ugly Ways" (277 pages, Harcourt Brace Jovanich, $19.95), a contemporary novel by Tina McElroy Ansa. The sisters make a pact not to become mothers to avoid following in Mudear's extremely self-centered footsteps. The trio reminisces about their mother and she listens to them and talks from her place in the mortuary, in a "navy blue monstrosity" that her daughters have picked for her to spend eternity in.

In Bebe Moore Campbell's "Your Blues Ain't Like Mine" (336 pages, Ballantine, $12 paper), Armstrong Todd is sent to Mississippi to live with his grandmother. During his stay, Todd speaks French to a white woman. As a result, he loses his life. Though Campbell has chosen a fictional account reminiscent of the Emmett Till murder case, she manages to tell an original tale. She also adroitly handles an assortment of plots and characters and gives readers a touch of romance in key locales.

Julie Dash chronicles her quest to make a feature-length film in "Daughters of the Dust: The Making of An African American Woman's Film" (173 pages, The New Press, $27.95). Dash not only shares the behind-the-scenes process of creating her cinematic evocation of Gullah culture, she also engages in a spirited dialogue with feminist theoretician bell hooks. …