LITERATURE

African American Literature: An Encyclopedia for Students

ABC-CLIO. 2019. 429p. ed. by ed. by Hans A. Ostrom & J. David Macey. ISBN 9781440871504. $109. REF
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In this single volume, editors Ostrom (African American studies, Univ. of Puget Sound, WA) and Macey (English, Univ. of Central Oklahoma), who in 2005 produced the five-volume Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature, have assembled what they call an introduction and overview to African American literature, aimed primarily at students. The majority of the information-dense, extensively sourced entries cover individual writers, but others address movements (the Harlem Renaissance, black feminism), themes and influences (folklore), and genres (essays, crime and mystery fiction); providing general outlines and then detailing African American contributions, this latter type will likely be the most useful. All summaries are signed, and brief profiles of the entries’ writers appear in the back (most are academics, though there are a few independent researchers as well). The title contains an index, a general bibliography, and extensive resources. A time line is oddly broad, beginning in 35,000 BCE and ending in the present.
VERDICT Overall, a useful option for its target audience: students. The entries will be accessible to high schoolers, and possibly younger students, as well as college-level readers, who will learn much from the coverage of varied genres, from mystery, romance, and horror, influenced by African American writers.

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