African/African American Literature Message Board
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By way of introduction, I've been an avid reader of African/African American literature for well over twenty years. I'm not too good about keeping up with contemporary Black fiction, but I have read most of what is considered African/African American classic literature--from DuBois to Zora Neal Hurston, to Toni Morrison.
Typically, I now read more non-fiction than fiction, but I'm trying to find my way back to fiction when I get the time.
Some of my favorite authors include Assata Shakur, Michael Eric Dyson, Toni Morrison, Nugugi wa Thiong'o, bell hooks, Richard Wright, June Jordan, and Mumia Abu Jamal--among many others.
When you join this group, please introduce yourself, share some of your favorite authors, and post questions for discussion.
Thanks for joining.
2harambeegirl Premier message
I didn't know much about African/African-American literature until I got to college and took Black Studies courses. Currently, I am reading a lot of speculative fiction -- an all-inclusive term for anything supernatural, spooky or weird. My favorite authors in this genre are Tananarive Due, Stephen Barnes, Nalo Hopkinson, Brandon Massey, L.A. Banks and Octavia Butler. I just discovered a new author called Gregory Townes. His debut novel is The Tribe. I highly recommend it.
There are other genres besides speculative fiction that intersect with African-American literature. I also like Afrocentric Biblical studies, women's/womanist studies, historical fiction, ya literature, and folklore.
I am highly disgusted and disillusioned with the current state of contemporary Black fiction. I have seen titles in the bookstore and I could not believe my eyes -- "Sex in the Hood", "My Daughter's Boyfriend". Is it just me -- am I a stuck-up, morally repressed, middle-class buppie -- or is there something WRONG with the publishing industry for glorifying a lifestyle of sex, drugs, crime and violence, marketing it to black folks and then the black folks running to buy it?
I think it's a okay to have the sensational novels, just as long as the serious fiction also gets published. Let's face it, my wife belongs to a book club with all educated sistas, and the only books that most of her members will read are the Sex in the Hood types. Only her and one or two other members will actually read the serious selections.
Most people will only read the trashy, fun stuff. That's just the way it is.
Thanks for joining the group.
As far as serious fiction, when I was at the bookstore (Borders -- don't even get me started on them), I don't see how the serious lit has the shelf space compared to the trashy stuff. Furthermore, if people are mostly buying the trashy stuff, how do authors of serious lit get published? Further still, who are the new serious authors of the 21st Century? I also love the classics like Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, bell hooks, etc. However, who is there to pass on the legacy? I would count J. California Cooper as a young author even though she has been around a while. I actually have not looked at your library, but I'd love suggestions.
Before a discourse can take place on who the serious authors are, one also has to ask what constitutes serious literature. In my definition, it is any work that addresses race, class and gender issues. I would also include any issues of family, history, heritage and culture as serious works of literature.
When I was studying literature in college, we also discussed whether Black authors have an obligation to their race to write positive literature that "uplifts" the race -- i.e. Booker T. Washingtonesque literature.
It was (and is) an interesting debate because, on one hand, I believe artists should be free to create, damn the social implications and consequences. On the other hand, I don't believe that we, as a people, are yet at the point where this cannot be a consideration when creating art. When Africans and African-Americans create artistic works, they/we may not care who sees or reads it. Yet, I feel painfully self-conscious when our works of art seem to validate stereotypes and are seen by those outside our cultural group.
I agree with you that people will read the trashy literature -- and what is trashy is in the eye of the beholder. My trashy literature is entertaining to me, but may be appalling to others. In my opinion, however, the ghetto literature justifies and glorifies an immoral lifestyle that is holding back the Black community and reinforces a perception that we are violent, promiscuous, etc. That some people are like this is besides the point. If they want to be that way, it is their business. Literature has a responsibility to at least not excuse their lifestyle by reflecting a mirror of their activities in print.
My biggest problem of late, though, is that mainly read technical books. Since I don't have people to converse about political issues on an ongoing basis, and since I'm no longer a political activist, I don't have much of a reason to read as widely as I used to.
I do hope to get back into some group so that pick up the habit again.
11amberalicia Premier message
For a study of African-American women in literature, I would recommend Ann Petry, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Alice Walker and J. California Cooper to name the cream of the crop IMO.
Perhaps your course will address this somewhat, but I have discovered that when discussing the prevalent themes of African-American literature, you can't ignore also making connections to Afro-Brazilian, Francophone, Afro-Caribbean and African literature.
I have also discovered that a major theme in African-American literature is the passing down of knowledge, values and culture through the women of the family. I call this theme Afrocentric matrilinealism and I wrote a term paper on it in college.
I had so much fun back in those days reading those assigned books and participating the class conversation. I didn't much look forward to writing the papers (it was before the existence word processors!) but I could have book discussions all day long.
In fact, that's how I met my wife through a book discussion.
Anyway, thanks to all for sharing your thoughts in this group.
People are just searching for something to relate to.
There are many trashy romance novels written and targeted to white audiences that "Serious Lit." readers and writers abhor. Now, my only wish is that "Sex in the Hood" novels will get put in the romance section, or a section of it's own.
I wanted to pass word along about this. Please pass word along!
Conference on Cultural Rhetorics
May 16-18, 2007
East Lansing, MI
Michigan State University
Call for Papers, Performances, and Exhibits
What are cultural rhetorics? Who writes, performs, displays, digitizes, crafts, and creates these rhetorics? What do they look like? How do specific cultural rhetorics differ from, overlap with, and/or engage in dialogue with Cultural, Ethnic, African American, Asian American, American Indian, Arab and Middle Eastern American, Chicano/a, Latina/o, Indigenous, Disability, Queer/LGBT, Performance, and Working-Class Studies? What are their relationships to Rhetoric Studies, Theory, and Pedagogy? Composition Studies? American Studies? Literary Studies? Digital, Visual, and Material Rhetorics? Scientific, technical, and professional communication studies? Are there pedagogies of cultural rhetorics? Methodologies? Theories? Performances? Materialities?
We welcome papers, performances, and exhibits that articulate, engage with, provoke, analyze, theorize, and practice cultural rhetorics. We are particularly interested in scholars/artists/performers/writers/knowledge workers that engage rhetorics that are too often marginalized, tokenized, silenced, and ignored. We welcome work that happens at the intersection of various disciplines and fields in the humanities and invite scholars, artists, and writers to join us at these intellectual and creative crossroads. Please join us in creating a space of radical interdisciplinarity in which to explore rhetoric as a distinctive constellation of methods, methodologies, and pedagogies for the study of culture and to think through how the frame of “culture” expands our understanding of rhetoric and the responsibility for rhetoric to be ethical in its engagement with culture.
While we are very interested in proposals for individual papers and panel presentations that address these questions and/or further scholarship in these areas, we especially encourage art, craft, multimedia, or imaginative resentations/demonstrations/installations that provoke other methods of intellectual engagement as well.
Proposals of 300-500 words may be submitted via US Mail or online. For the proposal form and submission process please visit our website: http://rhetoric.msu.edu/cultrhet. Please direct any questions to Malea Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2007.
I am novice in regards to African American/ African literature, embarrassing for one who fancies himself pseudo Garveyite. I am looking for recommendations so any you have for a beginner I'd happily accept. Thanks in advance.
I am novice in regards to African American/ African literature, embarrassing for one who fancies himself pseudo Garveyite. I am looking for recommendations so any you have for a beginner I'd happily accept. Thanks in advance.
What sort of nonfiction titles are members reading now?
for a colored girl who has considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf by ntozake shange
Bozeman and Lena
by Athol Fugard
The Piano Lesson by August Wilson and the other plays in the series about decades in african american life
Plays and Poems by Amiri Baraka Leroi Jones
Krik Krak by Edwige Danticat
Push by Sapphire
Having our Say by the Delaney Sisters hundred year old single sisters, a dentist and a teacher. Was dramatized
and The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
A Raisin in the Sun by Laraine Hansberry
I've Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and I've licked out all
the Pots by Susan Straight - about African -Americans by a white woman
Native Son and Black Boy by Richard Wright
Social Criticism, theory and Sociology:
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The Negro Family in the United States by E. Franklin Frazier
From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin
Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Middle Passage and The oxherding tale by Charles Johnson
Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones
At the same thrift shop i found a copy of The Color of Water, by James McBride which I had read before,but did not own. It is a touching story of a family of mixed race children raised by a white mother in the all-black housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. She founded an all black baptist church in her living room, and raised a dozen children who all went to college, and some to graduate school . There are many books about lonely black people in the white world, but few of white people in the black world, facing rejection, hostility and ostracism. It is a fascinating study of courage and committment, and love.
I'm looking to extend my knowledge of African literature a bit more; I haven't read much African-American lit, the best I can say I've read is Toni Morrison, though she rates as one of my favourite all-time writers.
I'm very fond also of J.M. Coetzee, he's masterly with his prose. Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions is another favourite; I've only just realised that she's finally written another book, so I'll be hanging out to get my mitts on a copy soon!
Here in Australia we don't seem to get much African/African-American literature, I'm constantly having to source from overseas to get copies as I prefer to own my own. So it'll take me some time to get more widely read, I look forward to reading up on other recs on here :)
You said you like Coetzee. I read Disgrace and was thoroughly disgusted. Not that the book wasn't well written, but what kind of 'white guilt' lets you forgive a rapist (sorry my question mark key not working). I was so upset that I haven't wanted to read anymore of his books.
I'm currently reading The Master of Petersburg, which is based on Fyodor Dostoevsky, who has influenced his work. I guess you could say that Coetzee is fascinated by the fringes of humanity, and the possibilities out there. It doesn't mean that he agrees with the characters he writes about, but sometimes they are there nevertheless, and writing about them can generate an interesting discourse on the uncommon.
I haven't read as much recent AfrAm literature as I would like, mainly because I have had a harder time finding books that I can relate to. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has read any books that they've enjoyed recently.
The best AfrAm novel I've read this year is Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas. I've read several novels by African authors that were fabulous, especially Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Hmm, trying to think of authors not already mentioned. #22 asked about nonfiction. I'm currently reading Leon Litwack's Trouble In Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow, the follow-up volume to Been in the Storm so Long . I also love bell hooks ; Paula Giddings and John Hope Franklin. John Vlach has published a great deal on impact of African-Americans on landscape and architecture.
I generally don't read a lot of fiction, but Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and Alice Walker would have to be at the top of my list of female authors, and Invisible Man is definitely one of the best American novels around.
Sorry my touchstone links don't seem to work. If anyone can assist in editing the links, let me know what I need to do!
I'm listening to the short story collection Lost in the City: stories by Edward P. Jones these days (Recorded Books production, downloaded from my library's mp3 service). The writing is exceptionally good throughout, though some stories held by interest more than others. The stories are read by a rotating crew of fine narrators. Well worth either obtaining via Inter-Library Loan or purchase, if your library doesn't have access to the audio vdersion itself.
Wanted to piggyback a recommendation for a video as well: The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood, starring Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen. Here's a link to a review:
"Medical Apartheid" from amazon
a few days ago. I saw you on c-span and ordered the book. I buy a lot of non-fiction but since moving to the rural south not many people to discuss the book with so I have been reading lots & lots of fiction.
I sometimes get tired with the sleazy books I see people reading then I think at least they are reading. thats the first step.
I forgot to introduce my self to the group. I have always been a book worm since I first learned to read and now I'm 75 still going strong. I was born & reaised in NYC and had a group of Afrocentric people who were active in the study of African history. We had a saturday class which taught African/African American history from 4yr-18yr. So we always had a hot discussion going on. We also had speakers to come to harlem and speak i.e. Dr. John Henrik Clarke,Dr Yousef Ben Johannen,Dr Van Sertima etc. Once Dr Chancellor Williams & Dr. John G. Jackson came. So now I live in a barren small rural town in NC with no interest in Africa or her literature or books.
I'm currently reading Arnold Rampersads bio of Ralph Ellison. I read his bio of Langston Hughes and enjoyed it very much. Ellison is not the sympathetic character that Hughes was. The book gives great insight into Ellison's life, his conflicts about race and why he never wrote another novel after Invisible Man.
down the names of the authors
she mentioned. today I read a
comment on the difficulty of Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) has
getting published and he uses small presses which are in a death knell struggle to survive.
today newspaper and thought to
myself to check it out when next in a bookstore.
I've seen LA Banks books in the library and haven't picked one up yet. How did you enjoy it?
I have started My Soul to Keep. And I have purchased Octavia Butler.
I am purchased so far ahead that I will need to live forever to get them all read. But that will not stop me from searching for The Eloquence of the Scribes and Two Thousand Seasons
I have read "My Soul To Keep" and enjoyed it very much. I also have read almost all of Octavia Butler's books and purchased them with the exception of one book she said she did not like and was glad it was out of print. Now that she is deceased I'm sure it will be reissued. Her latest book "Fledgling" was excellent and was supposed to one of a series. Too bad she died so unexpectedly. Armah is not light reading so don't rush yourself.
Just a quick note to introduce myself and say "Hello" to everyone here on LT (and especially to the members of this club). I am brand new on the site and not feeling quite so alone now. I've been wandering around trying to complete my library, learn how to move around the site, and find assistance to correct some author errors I've uncovered.
I have a tshirt that says: When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothes--Erasmus The truth of that statement is something I've never admited to anyone. Now, I feel I've discovered a place where other people feel the same way. I've been building my library since the '80s, and have dragged boxes of books cross country as I've relocated to other states. When I left California in '89, all the books I owned were in one box. Now, the books I own are being temporarily stored in Georgia, my home before returning to California to care for my mother. I drove here with only the belongings I could transport in a car, so the books with me are few. Which ones? All those I have purchased since leaving Georgia (including a 1st edition copy of Mojo Blues by Arthur Flowers for $3, and All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones for $5) and a few of my favorites.
I couldn't leave behind a leather edition of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. It is special because it was signed and presented to each of us present at Oprah's Book Club dinner held in her honor. I was lucky enough to have been selected to have dinner with her and Oprah (at Oprah's Chicago penthouse) where we discussed the book for five hours. You may have seen the show....It was an amazing evening, and one I will never forget. Having the book nearby rekindles that memory. The other book I brought was my African Heritage Study Bible. I left the other 700 behind, not knowing I would be able to see them displayed as I can here on LT long before I can unpack them again.
I must end this introduction before it becomes a biography, but not before extending an invitation to you to visit my library. I will surely be visiting yours!
Welcome, i am a recent member myself. I have that same T-shirt.What an experience dining with Toni Morrison and discussing her book. Are you still walking on air.
The bright silver of her glorious locs compared only to the diamond earrings Oprah wore (television does neither justice). Discussing that experience (the dinner, the show, Oprah's house, the Studio, etc.) and Song of Solomon can be done at another time and place...
Today, I wanted to make good on what has been requested of new members. I believe I have introduced myself; now, I wish to tell you a few of my favorite authors. Of course, I love Morrison, Angelou, Baldwin and Faulkner; all whom I consider standard-bearers for AA/Southern lit. I would like to mention to those who love AA fiction a relatively obscure writer from Georgia, Raymond Andrews. His book, Appalachee Red is the only book in my library that I have multiples of. I sought and located a nice first edition hardcover of the novel but also own some additional paperbacks that I can loan out. Everyone that reads this tale of family, revenge, and racism in the post-Civil War south always motivates them to go locate his other works (Baby Sweets and Rosiebelle Lee Wildcat Tennessee) to extend the experience.
This book was the first selection of an Atlanta bookclub and had been suggested by the brother of one member. Over time, we all agreed it had been one of our best discussions. Andrews joins my list of favorites for that reason. I hate that I am the only person on LT that owns a copy of this book. I hope to change that....we shall see.
I also would like to pose the following question: Which author in your catalog would you like everyone else to know about?
Thanks for listening.....I hope everyone begins to participate in the discussions here, and thank everyone for taking the time to share their books and opinions.
That's a great question. My delay in responding is I'm thinking!!!!! I am going to look Raymond Andrews up on Amazon and buy at least one of his books. I just know my library won't have him.
I joined the group a little while ago but have not yet introduced myself.
I'm a wife and mother, and one class away from finishing my undergraduate degree in African Studies and Religious Studies (double major). I originally wanted to go into Egyptology, but the job prospects in that field are quite dismal, so I'm looking at international development and international relations. We'll see!
I've read more African literature (including poetry and plays) than African-American literature, and unfortunately that has mostly been for class so far. Once I'm finished my degree, hopefully I'll have time to read for fun again, right?
Have you heard that 'da Kink in My Hair is now a TV series? Looks like a sitcom, too. I haven't read it or seen it on stage. Has it made the transition intact?
Congradulations on the double major. If you were thinking about
Egyptology you must be able to read Hieroglyhics. When I lived in New york I studied middle Egyptian and found it difficult but well worth the time and effort. We were in Egypt with our instructor and had fun trying to read various writings.
I have never heard of"da kink in my hair.
I'm afraid I haven't had the time to learn how to read heiroglyphs beyond a very very basic understanding of things like three lines for plural, half loaf for T, quail chick for U, flags for the gods! Perhaps one day I'll find the time, but it's in short supply right now.
I enjoyed both of the immortal books, I've heard her
new book will be out 2008 spring,its also about immortals. I've tried some of her other books but never finished any of the others.
1. London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City by Sukhdev Sandhu
2. The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
3. Man Gone Down by Michael Thomas
4. Foreigners: Three English Lives by Caryl Phillips
5. Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad
6. For the Confederate Dead by Kevin Young
7. Captivity by Toi Derricotte
8. Selected Poems by Linton Kwesi Johnson
9. The European Tribe by Caryl Phillips
10. Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
11. A State of Independence by Caryl Phillips
I just started reading Fanon: A Novel by John Edgar Wideman.