An overview of contemporary writing from Africa, drawing together 27 stories produced over the past three decades. Editor Larson offers a judicious mix of familiar figures (Amos Tutuola, Sembene Ousmane, Chinua Achebe, and Ben Okri) and less well known writers, among them Lu°s Bernardo Honwana (``Papa, Snake & I'') from Mozambique, Väronique Tadjo (``The Magician and the Girl'') from the Ivory Coast, Tijan Sallah (``Innocent Terror'') from Nigeria, and Mandla Langa (``A Gathering of Bald Men'') from South Africa. A deeply moving (and prophetic) short story by activist Ken Saro-Wiwa (``Africa Kills Her Sun''), who was executed in 1995 by the Nigerian government, reminds us how deadly dangerous the pursuit of literature can be. Clear themes emerge here: the terrible struggle to preserve tradition, the conflicting pull of Western and African beliefs, the awful disruptions still visited on Africa by the West. These are expressed in a variety of forms, with stories ranging from straightforward realism to soaring blends of traditional storytelling and magic realism. Larson's biographical notes on the writers are terse and useful. A necessary volume for anyone seeking an introduction to modern African literature.
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