Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

Synopsis

During the last two decades, African American writers have emerged as a distinct and dominant force in world literature. This reference book offers lively, concise, and current information about the lives and imaginative works of 79 contemporary African American novelists. Each of the alphabetically arranged entries begins with a biographical sketch of the author, offers a judicious critical assessment of the author's major works, provides a representative sample of the critical responses the author's books have elicited, and concludes with a selected bibliography that lists the author's publications as well as useful secondary material. Included are entries for major figures, such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison, but many noteworthy young writers also receive the attention they deserve. Forty-one of the 79 writers discussed are women, and roughly a dozen of the novelists have identified themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Intended for students and advanced scholars alike, the volume is sophisticated yet accessible to a wide audience.

Excerpt

A most significant development that has taken place on the global literary scene during the last two decades or so is the dramatic emergence of African American voices as a distinct and dominant force. 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 during that momentous decade. And the publication of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in 1970 marked a nodal point 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 Toni Morrison scores of African American fiction writers, poets, playwrights, autobiographers, and essayists have mapped bold new territories; they have firmly entrenched themselves in the forefront of contemporary American literature. This reference volume is designed as a joyous celebration of this exciting new phenomenon and as a scholarly guide to the lives, works, and achievements of many of those artists.

The focus of this volume is exclusively on contemporary African American novelists. A total of seventy-nine writers receive close and careful attention here. All major novelists—James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Gloria Naylor—figure prominently. But I have made a conscious effort to include many lesser known writers—Tina McElroy Ansa, Bebe Moore Campbell, Randall Kenan, Reginald McKnight, Marita Golden, and Arthur Flowers—whose works I believe deserve greater attention. This volume strives to be inclusive: forty-one of the seventy-nine writers who receive consideration are women;

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