Black Women's Prose Fiction in English: A Selective Bibliography

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This Bibliography is intended as a tool for those interested in the arguments I made in "Teaching Courses in Black Women's Fiction in Australia: Some Observations" in the last issue of Hecate. A recent survey, which will be discussed in the next issue, revealed an even greater paucity of Black women writers in courses in tertiary institutions than we expected.

Genre as constructed within Western cultures poses problems when compiling a Bibliography such as this. `Prose fiction' included comprises novels, stories and autobiography. As Barbara Godard points out, writing in 1986 about Native Canadian women's writing, the study of a "fixed written text" omits the "performance context". The Black cultures included in this Bibliography retain strong elements of an oral, communal culture but these elements are often diffused when using a form such as the novel, probably more so than they are with much poetry or drama. Some novels by Black women attempt through their form to retain aspects of such elements: Ama Ata Aidoo shifts from prose to poetry in her `novel' Our Sister Killjoy. Toni Morrison comments in her essay "Rootedness": "To make the story appear oral, meandering, effortless, spoken -- to have the reader feel the narrator without identifying that narrator, or hearing him or her knock about, and to have the reader work with the author in the construction of the book -- is what's important". The Aboriginal writer, Sally Morgan, includes several oral histories in her `novel' My Place.

In this Bibliography, the fiction is supplemented by history and political theory, interviews and literary criticism (by both Black and White writers). With more work being done and theory being developed, the boundaries between these categories and, indeed, with areas such as sociology and anthropology are in some cases becoming increasingly fluid. …


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