Reading Black Books: How African American Literature Can Make Our Faith More Whole and Just

Brazos. May 2022. 208p. ISBN 9781587435294. pap. $19.99. REL
Atcho, a pastor and writer, offers an original and engaging work on the theological implications and themes of classic African American literature. He calls this book “a blend of close reading, theological reflection, and Christian proclamation and application,” artfully woven together to expand readers’ understanding of the novel at hand and of Christian theology. Each chapter examines one theme (hope, justice, sin, God) in a novel by a Black American (including Wright’s Native Son, Morrison’s Beloved, Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain). Atcho does not go into literary theory, but his book is a strong example of interpreting literature theologically and applying its lessons practically. He draws on his expertise as both a pastor and a literary scholar, skillfully weaving these two worlds together to produce meaningful and original analyses of canonical African American literature. This book will appeal to readers with interests in either literary studies or Christian theology, and Atcho’s writing is accessible enough to make this a book not just for scholars but also for educated lay readers.
VERDICT An excellent addition to both public and academic libraries.
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