LITERATURE

Notable African American Writers

Salem. 2d ed. ed. 3 vols. Mar. 2020. 900p. ed. by ed. by Robert C. Evans. ISBN 9781642654073. $295. REF
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In this three-volume reference, editor Evans (English, Auburn Univ., Montgomery; editor, Critical Insights: Censored & Banned Literature) provides encyclopedic coverage of African American authors up to the present (e.g., Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates), with a list of works, biographical information, and a bibliography. The bulk of each entry analyzes an individual work and whether the author has written in multiple forms, providing examples of each. The entries vary in terms of thoroughness; while an accurate assessment of the work of deceased or retired authors can be made, for writers who are alive and publishing, the analysis is sometimes less substantial. At the end of the third volume, four “genre essays”—on African American drama, poetry, long fiction, and short fiction—provide a historical overview of major contributors, and the genre form in the context of the African American experience. Summaries are signed and written by a mix of academics and independent scholars.
VERDICT Comprehensive and useful for a variety of audiences.

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