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 From the ``Writers of America'' series, an anthology of about 40 short selections--poetry and excerpts from essays, novels, and short stories--by 31 writers, such as James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frederick Douglass, Rita Dove, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, and Richard Wright. Stepto's introductory matter and commentary link the selections thematically through images of the circle (representing the connectedness of life, family, and generations), the veil (of invisibility and separation), water (symbolizing variously the voyage to slavery and the journey to freedom or release in death), and music (the voice of an oppressed people). These give a sense of the overarching themes of African-American literature as a whole. A companion volume in the series, American Indian Voices (ISBN 1- 56294-382-0), is similarly arranged around the themes of belief, traditions, change, and survival. Although Stepto's volume is useful as an overview, and its thematic focus is a relief from the more conventional organization, the selections are mostly so brief that very little sense can be gained of the many distinctive voices represented. Artwork from painters such as Romare Bearden and Henry Tanner tie in with the themes, but reproduce poorly in black and white. (bibliography, index) (Anthology. 12+)

Pub Date: March 15th, 1995
ISBN: 1-56294-474-6
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Millbrook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995