A breathtaking achievement, this concise companion is a suitable crown to the astonishing production in African American literature and criticism that has swept over American literary studies in the last two decades.
The book surveys a vast literary landscape, covering writers from Sojourner Truth to Frederick Douglass, Zora Neale Hurston to Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison to August Wilson. Over 400 entries span the entire range of African American writing - from major works (including synopses of novels) such as Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Richard Wright's Native Son, and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun to vivid literary characters such as Bigger Thomas, Coffin Ed Johnson, Kunta Kinte, and Sula Peace. Character types such as Aunt Jemima, Brer Rabbit, John Henry, and Stackolee are discussed in detail, and recognition is given to those figures of vital importance to black culture and our nation, among them Muhammad Ali, John Coltrane, Marcus Garvey, Jackie Robinson, John Brown,
and Harriet Tubman.
Featuring biographies, individual works including poems, fiction, songs, plays, and essays, and an appendix that reprints in its entirety the essay "Literary History", the
Companion fully captures the sweep of African American writing in the United States from the colonial days to the present.