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(03/04/2009) The Locked Room by Paul Auster. Los Angeles. 1986. Sun & Moon Press. keywords: Literature America. 179 pages. Cover by Katie Messborn. 0940650762.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THE LOCKED ROOM is the eagerly awaited final volume of THE NEW YORK TRILOGY, Paul Mister's remarkable series of interconnecting novels that began with CITY OF GLASS and GHOSTS. As with the previous novels, The Locked Room begins with a mystery, but this time it is told in the first person—in a brilliant, searching prose that carries all of the urgency of someone trying to reconstruct a dream. What has happened to Fanshawe, and why has his wife suddenly called upon the narrator to decide the fate of his missing childhood friend? Bit by bit, the nameless hero is lured into Fanshawe's past, all the while struggling to keep himself free of its entanglements. But it is a losing battle, and as he undertakes the demands of an inescapable journey into the unknown, the narrator discovers the strange and terrible secret that is hidden behind the door of every locked ROOM. In this extraordinary conclusion to THE NEW YORK TRILOGY, Paul Auster reinforces his reputation as one of the most original and exciting novelists in the United States today.

 

 

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(03/03/2009) Ghosts by Paul Auster. Los Angeles. 1986. Sun & Moon Press. keywords: Literature America. 96 pages. Cover by Katie Messborn. 0940650703.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The fable that stands at the center of Paul Auster's NEW YORK TRILOGY, GHOSTS is a story of deception and hidden violence that loops back on itself like a Moebius strip. A private detective named Blue is hired to watch a man named Black, and little by little he is led into an intricate game of hide and seek that culminates in an inevitable but totally unexpected shattering of the case. Set in the 1940s, the narrative of GHOSTS evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of film noir. Lured into the trap of Auster's meticulous present-tense prose, the reader, like Blue, becomes a victim of the plot's irresistible force. GHOSTS is a book of footsteps that continue to echo long after the walker has vanished.

 

 

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(03/02/2009) City Of Glass by Paul Auster. Los Angeles. 1985. Sun & Moon Press. keywords: Literature America. 203 pages. Cover by Katie Messborn. 0940650533.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Described by Sulfur magazine as the most singular prose stylist of his generation. Paul Auster has created in CITY OF GLASS a haunting and mysterious tale that moves at the breathless pace of a good thriller. Receiving a phone call from a stranger in the middle of the night, a writer of detective stories becomes embroiled in a case more puzzling and complex than any book he might have written. Who is Peter Stillman? And why is his father trying to kill him? Or is the father really someone else? And if so, who is the person about to he murdered? For Quinn, who goes out in search of the answers to these questions, the city becomes an inexhaustible space. a labyrinth of endless steps. ’ as ordinary clues lead to extraordinary coincidences in the universe and the simple act of trailing a man ends in a startling investigation of what it means to be human. Written with an hallucinatory clarity, this first volume of THE NEW YORK TRILOGY combines a dark Kafka-like humor with the suspense of a Hitchcock film. CITY OF GLASS represents the most ambitious work to date by a uniquely gifted American writer.

 

 

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(03/01/2009) The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara & Lenin Play Chess by Andrei Codrescu. Princeton. 2009. Princeton University Press. keywords: Literature Poetry History Chess Dada. 235 pages. 9780691137780. April 2009.

Codrescu is mad in the best possible way. He is erudite, funny, an interesting historian, an inspired poet, and ultimately a philosopher. Read this book before it is too late!.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

‘This is a guide for instructing posthumans in living a Dada life. It is not advisable, nor was it ever, to lead a Dada life. ’--THE POSTHUMAN DADA GUIDE. THE POSTHUMAN DADA GUIDE is an impractical handbook for practical living in our posthuman world--all by way of examining the imagined 1916 chess game between Tristan Tzara, the daddy of Dada, and V. I. Lenin, the daddy of communism. This epic game at Zurich's Café de la Terrasse--a battle between radical visions of art and ideological revolution--lasted for a century and may still be going on, although communism appears dead and Dada stronger than ever. As the poet faces the future mass murderer over the chessboard, neither realizes that they are playing for the world. Taking the match as metaphor for two poles of twentieth- and twenty-first-century thought, politics, and life, Andrei Codrescu has created his own brilliantly Dadaesque guide to Dada--and to what it can teach us about surviving our ultraconnected present and future. Here dadaists Duchamp, Ball, and von Freytag-Loringhoven and communists Trotsky, Radek, and Zinoviev appear live in company with later incarnations, including William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Gilles Deleuze, and Newt Gingrich. THE POSTHUMAN DADA GUIDE is arranged alphabetically for quick reference and nostalgia for order, with entries such as ‘eros ,’ ‘internet,’ and ‘war. ’ Throughout, it is written in the belief ‘that posthumans lining the road to the future need the solace offered by the primal raw energy of Dada and its inhuman sources.'

Andrei Codrescu is an award-winning writer and National Public Radio commentator. His latest books are JEALOUS WITNESS: NEW POEMS and NEW ORLEANS, MON AMOUR: TWENTY YEARS OF WRITING FROM THE CITY The author of many essay collections, including THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE OUTSIDE, he is the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University.

 

 

 

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(02/26/2009) Sally Hemings by Barbara Chase-Riboud. New York. 1979. Viking Press. keywords: Literature America Women. 348 pages. Jacket painting by Cornelia Gray. 0670616052. June 1979.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   One of the greatest love stories in American history is also one of the least known, and most controversial. Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, had a mistress for thirty-eight years, whom he loved and lived with until he died, the beautiful and elusive Sally Hemings. But it was not simply that Jefferson had a mistress that provoked the scandal of the times; it was that Sally Hemings was a quadroon slave, and that Jefferson fathered a slave family, many of whose descendents, known and unknown, are alive today. In this moving novel, which spans two continents, sixty years, and seven presidencies, Barbara Chase-Riboud re-creates a love story, based on the documents and evidence of the day but giving free rein to the novelist’s imagination. The story opens in the Paris of 1787, two scant years before the French Revolution and but a decade after the start of our own, where Thomas Jefferson is serving as the American ambassador to the court of France. A widower, Jefferson had brought his elder daughter, Martha, to France with him, but now he decides to bring over his younger daughter, Polly, as well. Sent with her as maid and servant is fourteen-year-old Sally Hemings. Over the next several months Jefferson grows increasingly infatuated with his slave, and before long becomes her lover. Highly intelligent and sensitive, and increasingly educated and sophisticated through her Paris sojourn, Sally Hemings could have opted not to return to America when Jefferson was called home, could have chosen freedom on the basis that slavery had been abolished on French soil. Bit she did return with Jefferson to Monticello, thus reenslaving herself to him. She never left Monticello again, and Jefferson, despite pressures to do so, did not remarry; the reason, no doubt, was Sally Hemings. Woven into this rich and complex narrative of love and enslavement is the story of the early Republic and of the personages of Aaron Burr, Dolley and James Madison, John and Abigail Adams, and John Trumbull. And like a series of somber counterpoints to the compelling love story are three salient themes: the slave rebellions of Gabriel Prosser and Nat Turner; murders, those of George Wythe, Jefferson’s old professor and benefactor, and of George, the Lewis slave in Kentucky; and, above all, survival, that of Sally Hemings but also that of her indomitable mother, Elizabeth. Here were two generations of slave mistresses: Sally Hemings, mistress to a president, and her mother, mistress to a president’s father-in-law. The strange and complex ties between these two American families - the Jeffersons and the Hemingses, one white, one black—form in a sense the underside of our history. In this brilliant novel, Barbara Chase-Riboud presents the remarkable love story of Jefferson and Hemings as a poignant, tragic, and unforgettable addendum to the history of the races, and of the sexes, in America.

 

 

 

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(02/25/2009) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney. London/Dar es Salaam. 1973. Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications/Tanzania Publishing House. keywords: History Africa Black. 316 pages.

A classic in the history of Europe's exploitation of Africa.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA is a major challenge to all of us. It shows a direct correlation between the development of Europe and the underdevelopment of Africa. This book, which is written with the simplicity and clarity characteristic of Rodney's writings, is compulsory reading. This wide-reaching volume shows how Africa developed before the coming of the Europeans up to the 15th century, and shows Africa's contribution to European capitalist development in the pre-colonial period. Colonialism is then shown as a system for under developing Africa. is among the most insightful analysis of the reasons behind the underdevelopment of the African continent. The book is written in a Marxist context. The author demonstrates exceptional analytical depth and critical research into how European colonialism and capitalism were a double edged sword in creating deep rooted underdevelopment of the continent which has been very difficult to uproot. Other publications of the author include A HISTORY OF THE UPPER GUINEA COAST 1545 TO 1800 (The Clarendon Press, London), THE GROUNDINGS WITH MY BROTHERS (Bogle-L'Ouverture Publications, London) and a number of papers in international journals and reviews of African history.

 

 

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(02/24/2009) Hammer & Hoe: Alabama Communists During The Great Depression by Robin D. G. Kelley. Chapel Hill. 1990. University Of North Carolina Press. keywords: Black Communism South. 369 pages. Cover: Diedra Hariss-Kelley. 0807819212.

Robin D. G. Kelley is an excellent historian. His writing is clear and his wisdom is great.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Between 1929 and 1941, the Communist Party organized and led a radical, militantly antiracist movement in Alabama - the center of Party activity in the Depression South. HAMMER AND HOE documents the efforts of the Alabama Communist Party and its allies to secure racial, economic, and political reforms. Sensitive to the complexities of gender, race, culture, and class without compromising the political narrative, Robin Kelley here illuminates one of the most unique and least understood radical movements in American history. The Alabama Communist Party was built from scratch by working people who had no Euro-American radical political tradition. It was composed largely of poor blacks, most of whom were semiliterate and devoutly religious, but it also attracted a handful of whites, including unemployed industrial workers, iconoclastic youth, and renegade liberals. Kelley shows that the cultural identities of these people from Alabama's farms, factories, mines, kitchens, and city streets shaped the development of the Party. The result was a remarkably resilient movement forged in a racist world that had little tolerance for radicals. In the South race pervaded virtually every aspect of Communist activity. And because the Party's call for voting rights, racial equality, equal wages for women, and land for landless farmers represented a fundamental challenge to the society and economy of the South, it is not surprising that Party organizers faced a constant wave of violence. Kelley's analysis ranges broadly, examining such topics as the Party's challenge to black middle-class leadership; the social, ideological, and cultural roots of black working-class radicalism; Communist efforts to build alliances with Southern liberals; and the emergence of a left-wing interracial youth movement. He closes with a discussion of the Alabama Communist Party's demise and its legacy for future civil rights activism.

 

 

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(02/23/2009) From Trickster To Badman: The Black Folk Hero In Slavery &Freedom by John W. Roberts. New York. 1989. University of Pennsylvania Press. keywords: Literature Black History Folk Heroes America. 233 pages. Jacket design by Adrianne Onderdonk Dudden. 0812281411. 

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   American folk heroic literature reflects the profound and enduring relationship between African and African American cultures. In FROM TRICKSTER TO BADMAN, John Roberts argues that these texts are part of a creative process meaningful only when viewed from the vantage point of the cultural values of African people in America. To protect their identity and values, Africans enslaved in America transformed character-types to create folk heroes who offered models of behavior both recognizable to them as African people and adaptable to their situation in America. Although the cultural values of African Americans have been shaped by their experiences in America, it is the African expressive forms and cultural values that the have most influenced the creation, evaluation, and justification of black folk heroes. Finally Roberts contends that this creative process in continuous and is intricately linked to black culture-building itself. Roberts specifically examines the Afro-American trickster and the trickster tradition, the conjurer as folk hero, the biblical heroic tradition, and the badman as outlaw hero.

 

 

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(02/22/2009) The Wayward & The Seeking: A Collection Of Writings By Jean Toomer. Washington DC. 1980. Howard University Press. Edited By Darwin T. Turner. keywords: Literature Black America. 450 pages. Jacket designed by David A. Fridberg. 0882580140.

A collection of various writings from a notable writer of the Harlem Renaissance, and author of CANE.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   All who have been enchanted by Cane, that lyrical evocation of black rural life, have wanted more of Jean Toomer's work. Their patience is finally rewarded by this collection. Included are examples from the various genres Toomer turned to: selections from the autobiographies, which had a special place in both his personal and his creative development; short stories, sometimes lyrical, often didactic; poetry, spiritual yet worldly; drama, experimental and unproduced; aphorisms, the tenets of psychological and social reform born of a brooding insight. Much of this material has never been published. Little of it has been available to the general reading public in book form. So here they are, selected writings by Jean Toomer, the mystery man of black letters.

 

 

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(02/21/2009) Black Folk Then & Now by W. E. B. Du Bois. New York. 1945. Henry Holt & Company. keywords: History Black America. 401 pages. October 1945.

If you want to read about black people in the 20th century, read W. E. B. Du Bois. He is a fine historian with real literary flair.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   An essay in the history and sociology of the negro race. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was a black civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He became a naturalized citizen of Ghana in 1963 at the age of 95. David Levering Lewis, a biographer, wrote, 'In the course of his long, turbulent career, W. E. B. Du Bois attempted virtually every possible solution to the problem of twentieth-century racism -- scholarship, propaganda, integration, national self-determination, human rights, cultural and economic separatism, politics, international communism, expatriation, third world solidarity.'

W. E. B. Du Bois was born on Church Street on February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, at the south-western edge of Massachusetts, to Alfred Du Bois and Mary Silvina Burghardt Du Bois, whose February 5, 1867, wedding had been announced in the Berkshire Courier. Alfred Du Bois had been born in Haiti. Their son was born 5 months before the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified, and added to the U. S. Constitution. Alfred Du Bois was descended from free people of color, including the slave-holding Dr. James Du Bois of Poughkeepsie, New York, a physician. In the Bahamas, James Du Bois had fathered three sons, including Alfred, and a daughter, by his slave mistress. Du Bois was also the great-grandson of Elizabeth Freeman, a slave who successfully sued for her freedom, laying the groundwork for the eventual abolition of slavery in Massachusetts. Du Bois was born free and did not have contact with his biological father. He blamed his maternal grandparents for his father's leaving because they did not take kindly to him. Du Bois was very close to his mother Mary, who was from Massachusetts. Du Bois moved frequently when he was young, after Mary suffered a stroke which left her unable to work. They survived on money from family members and Du Bois' after-school jobs. Du Bois wanted to help his mother as much as possible and believed he could improve their lives through education. Some of the neighborhood whites noticed him, and one allowed Du Bois and his mother to rent a house from him in Great Barrington. While living there, Du Bois performed chores and worked odd jobs. Du Bois did not feel differently because of his skin color while he was in school. In fact, the only times he felt out of place were when out-of-towners would visit Great Barrington. One such incident occurred when a white girl who was new in school refused to take one of his fake calling cards during a game. The girl told him she would not accept it because he was black. He then realized that there would always be some kind of barrier between whites and others. Young Du Bois may have been an outsider because of his status, being poor, not having a father and being extremely intellectual for his age; however, he was very comfortable academically. Many around him recognized his intelligence and encouraged him to further his education with college preparatory courses while in high school. This academic confidence led him to believe that he could use his knowledge to empower African Americans. Du Bois was awarded a degree from Fisk University in 1888. During the summer following graduation from Fisk, Du Bois managed the Fisk Glee Club. The club was employed at a grand luxury summer resort on Lake Minnetonka in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. The resort was a favorite spot for vacationing wealthy American Southerners and European royalty. Du Bois and the other club members doubled as waiters and kitchen workers at the hotel. Observing the drinking, rude and crude behavior and sexual promiscuity of the rich white guests of the hotel left a deep impression on the young Du Bois. Du Bois entered Harvard College in the fall of 1888, having received a $250 scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree cum laude from Harvard in 1890. In 1892, received a stipend to attend the University of Berlin. While a student in Berlin, he travelled extensively throughout Europe, and came of age intellectually while studying with some of the most prominent social scientists in the German capital, such as Gustav von Schmoller. In 1895, Du Bois became the first African American to receive a Ph. D. from Harvard University. After teaching at Wilberforce University in Ohio and the University of Pennsylvania, he established the department of sociology at Atlanta University Du Bois wrote many books, including three major autobiographies. Among his most significant works are The Philadelphia Negro, The Souls of Black Folk, John Brown, Black Reconstruction, and Black Folk, Then and Now His book The Negro influenced the work of several pioneer Africanist scholars, such as Drusilla Dunjee Houston and William Leo Hansberry. In 1940, at Atlanta University, Du Bois founded Phylon magazine. In 1946, he wrote The World and Africa: An Inquiry Into the Part that Africa has Played in World History. In 1945, he helped organize the historic Fifth Pan-African Conference in Manchester, England. While prominent white voices denied African American cultural, political and social relevance to American history and civic life, in his epic work, Reconstruction Du Bois documented how black people were central figures in the American Civil War and Reconstruction. He demonstrated the ways Black emancipation--the crux of Reconstruction--promoted a radical restructuring of United States society, as well as how and why the country turned its back on human rights for African Americans in the aftermath of Reconstruction. This theme was taken up later and expanded by Eric Foner and Leon F. Litwack, the two leading contemporary scholars of the Reconstruction era. In total, Du Bois wrote 22 books, including five novels, and helped establish four journals. Du Bois was the most prominent intellectual leader and political activist on behalf of African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. A contemporary of Booker T. Washington, the two carried on a dialogue about segregation and political disenfranchisement. He was labeled 'The Father of Pan-Africanism. ' In 1905, Du Bois along with Minnesota attorney Fredrick L. McGhee and others helped to found the Niagara Movement with William Monroe Trotter. The Movement championed, among other things, freedom of speech and criticism, the recognition of the highest and best human training as the monopoly of no caste or race, full male suffrage, a belief in the dignity of labor, and a united effort to realize such ideals under sound leadership. The alliance between Du Bois and Trotter was, however, short-lived, as they had a dispute over whether or not white people should be included in the organization and in the struggle for Civil Rights. Du Bois felt that they should, and with a group of like-minded supporters, he helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. In 1910, he left his teaching post at Atlanta University to work as publications director at the NAACP full-time. He wrote weekly columns in many newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, the Pittsburgh Courier and the New York Amsterdam News, three African-American newspapers, and also the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle. For 25 years, Du Bois worked as Editor-in-Chief of the NAACP publication, The Crisis, which then included the subtitle A Record of the Darker Races. He commented freely and widely on current events and set the agenda for the fledgling NAACP. Its circulation soared from 1,000 in 1910 to more than 100,000 by 1920. Du Bois published Harlem Renaissance writers Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer. As a repository of black thought, the Crisis was initially a monopoly, David Levering Lewis observed. In 1913, Du Bois wrote The Star of Ethiopia, a historical pageant, to promote African-American history and civil rights. The seminal debate between Booker T. Washington and Du Bois played out in the pages of the Crisis with Washington advocating a philosophy of self-help and vocational training for Southern blacks while Du Bois pressed for full educational opportunities. Du Bois thought blacks should seek higher education, preferably liberal arts. Du Bois believed blacks should challenge and question whites on all grounds, but Washington believed assimilating and fitting into the 'American' culture is the best way for Blacks to move up in society. While Washington states that he didn't receive any racist insults until later on his years, Du Bois said Blacks have a 'Double-Conscious' mind in which they have to know when to act 'White' and when to act 'Black'. Booker T. Washington felt that teaching was a duty but Du Bois felt it was a calling. Du Bois became increasingly estranged from Walter Francis White, the executive secretary of the NAACP, and began to question the organization's opposition to racial segregation at all costs. Du Bois thought that this policy, while generally sound, undermined those black institutions that did exist, which Du Bois thought should be defended and improved, rather than attacked as inferior by the 1930s, Lewis said, the NAACP had become more institutional and Du Bois, increasingly radical, sometimes at odds with leaders such as Walter White and Roy Wilkins. In 1934, after writing two essays in the Crisis suggesting that black separatism could be a useful economic strategy, Du Bois left the magazine to return to teaching at Atlanta University. In 1909, W. E. B. Du Bois addressed the American Historical Association According to David Levering Lewis, 'His would be the first and last appearance of an African American on the program until 1940. ' In a review of the second book in Lewis's biographies of Du Bois, Michael R. Winston observed that, in understanding American history, one must question 'how black Americans developed the psychological stamina and collective social capacity to cope with the sophisticated system of racial domination that white Americans had anchored deeply in law and custom. ' Winston continued, 'Although any reasonable answer is extraordinarily complex, no adequate one can ignore the man whose genius was for 70 years at the intellectual epicenter of the struggle to destroy white supremacy as public policy and social fact in the United States. ' Du Bois was investigated by the FBI, who claimed in May 1942 that '[h]is writing indicates him to be a socialist,' and that he 'has been called a Communist and at the same time criticized by the Communist Party. ' Du Bois visited Communist China during the Great Leap Forward. Also, in the March 16, 1953 issue of The National Guardian, Du Bois wrote 'Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. ' Du Bois was chairman of the Peace Information Center at the start of the Korean War. He was among the signers of the Stockholm Peace Pledge, which opposed the use of nuclear weapons. In 1950, at the age of 82, he ran for the U. S. Senate on the American Labor Party ticket in New York and received 4of the vote. Although he lost, Du Bois remained committed to the progressive labor cause and in 1958, joined Trotskyists, ex-Communists and independent radicals in proposing the creation of a united left-wing coalition to challenge for seats in the elections for the New York state senate and assembly. He was indicted in the United States under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and acquitted for lack of evidence. W. E. B. Du Bois became disillusioned with both black capitalism and racism in the United States. In 1959, Du Bois received the Lenin Peace Prize. In 1961, at the age of 93, he joined the Communist Party USA. Du Bois was invited to Ghana in 1961 by President Kwame Nkrumah to direct the Encyclopedia Africana, a government production, and a long-held dream of his. When, in 1963, he was refused a new U. S. passport, he and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois, became citizens of Ghana, renouncing his US citizenship. Du Bois' health had declined in 1962, and on August 27, 1963, he died in Accra, Ghana at the age of ninety-five, one day before Martin Luther King, Jr. 's 'I Have a Dream' speech. At the March on Washington, Roy Wilkins informed the hundreds of thousands of marchers and called for a moment of silence.

 

 

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(02/20/2009) Dark Ancestor: The Literature Of The Black Man In The Caribbean by O. R. Dathorne. Baton Rouge. 1981. Louisiana State University Press. keywords: Literature Caribbean Black Literary Criticism. 288 pages. 0807107573.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The southern rim of the United States, eastern Mexico, and the Caribbean regions of Central America, Brazil, Venezuela, and the Guyanas demarcate the borders of that area of the Black man's New World terrain that is significant in this discussion. The inner zone of this area, especially the Caribbean Islands, provides the focus of this study, although consider Canada, the United States, and Central and South America are also considered when relevant. In large measure, to allude to the Caribbean, or indeed to the New World, is to confirm the presence of the Black man in its evolution. The Indian presence, when it was not virtually extinguished, was rendered culturally neutral; but the black presence afforded these areas an air of new cultural autonomy and bestowed a pattern different from that of the old worlds of Europe and Africa. Within the Caribbean the Black man has manifested his culture in a number of diverse ways. Some generalizations obviously apply, but there is much divergence within these common manifestations. More precisely, the New World Black who lives in the United States is culturally, economically, and socially different from his New World counterparts in Nicaragua and Panama. A study of Caribbean literature can only expect to chart currents through which Black writers have chosen to move, and emphasize their similarities and differences. When discussing the New World, one comes up against the intriguing point that not only is the New World a Black invention, but the writer at the same time is engaged in threading a synthesis into literature. Because of the texture and variety of this synthesis, Afro-New World man is in many ways unique, and his literature reflects this.

Oscar Ronald Dathorne is a Guyanese born and bred author who has taught in England, Africa, and the United States. Among others, he has taught at he University of Ibadan and the University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, Yale, Howard University, the University of Wisconsin, S. U. N. Y. Dathorne was born in Guyana, South America and earned his Ph. D. degree from the University of Sheffield in England. He has taught throughout the world, including England, Africa and the United States. Between 1977 and 1987, Dr. Dathorne directed the program of Caribbean, African and African-American Studies at the University of Miami. He is director of the Association of Caribbean Studies and has been editor of the Journal of Caribbean Studies for the past 10 years. Dr. Dathorne has been professor of English at the University of Kentucky since 1987. He has published more than 100 learned articles, short stories, poems, plays and scholarly works. Dr. Dathorne has written and published three novels, the latest titled Dele's Child His most recent volume of poetry, Songs from a New World, appeared in 1988. Dr. Dathorne's publications include a seminal study of Black life and culture, The Black Mind; a study of African literature and politics, African Literature in the Twentieth Century; and, most importantly, Dark Ancestor, which deals with the ramifications and impact of the African past and presence on the Caribbean and the Americas.

 

 

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(02/18/2009) God's Bits Of Wood by Sembene Ousmane. Garden City. 1962. Doubleday. Translated from the French by Francis Price. keywords: Literature Senegal Africa Black Translated. 333 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   AN ANCIENT SENEGALESE TRADITION decrees that if the members of any group must be counted, they may only be numbered as so many of 'God's Bits of Wood.' To give them names might attract the attention of an evil spirit and fatefully alter their lives. Strike! The word itself was foreign to the men and women who lived along the thousand miles of steel that run from the city of Dakar into the ancient heartland of the Sudan. Strike! The word had come to them with the building of the railroad, and with the red-eared men from a country named France. Once before, they had taken it up as a weapon and had been bloodily repulsed; and now, in 1947, they were taking it up again. A few thousands of men and their women were plunging themselves, their people -and, eventually, their continent-headlong into the future. And this time they knew they could not, must not, fail. Written by a man who is himself one of 'God's Bits of Wood,' and based on actual events, this novel is dramatic evidence of the rebirth of a great people.

SEMBENE OUSMANE was born in 1923 in Ziguienchor, in what was then French 'West Africa, and now is the Senegal Republic. He came from a family of fishermen, and had he followed the customs of his ancestors he would have been a fisherman himself, but after three years in an industrial school at Marsassoum he went to Dakar, where he worked as a plumber, a bricklayer, and a mechanic. He served in the French army for four years in World War II and took part in the Allied invasion of Italy. After demobilization in Germany in 1945, he went to work as a longshoreman in the port of Marseille. His first book, published in France under the title Le Docker Noir (The Black Docksman), was a factual account of this experience. Mr. Ousmane had long known that he wanted to write, and, after an injury to his spine forced him to give up manual labor, he turned all of his vast energy to the creation of a series of novels that would tell the story of his land and his people. After a lengthy tour of Europe, he has now returned to Senegal, where 'there is still so much to do, and so much to write.'

 

 

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(02/17/2009) Masters Of The Dew by Jacques Roumain. New York. 1947. Reynal & Hitchcock. Translated From The French By Langston Hughes & Mercer Cook. keywords: Literature Translated Haiti Caribbean Black. 180 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The genre of the peasant novel in Haiti reaches back to the nineteenth century and this is one of the outstanding examples. Manuel returns to his native village after working on a sugar plantation in Cuba only to discover that it is stricken by a drought and divided by a family feud. He attacks the resignation endemic among his people by preaching the kind of political awareness and solidarity he has learned in Cuba. He goes on to illustrate his ideas in a tangible way by finding water and bringing it to the fields through the collective labor of the villagers. In this political fable, Roumain is careful to create an authentic environment and credible characters. Readers will be emotionally moved as well as ideologically persuaded.

Jacques Roumain, the son of a wealthy Haitian family, was born in Port-au-Prince in 1907. After being educated in Europe he identified with the resistance movement against the American occupation. He started Le Revue Indigene and published various books including La Montagne Ensorcelee He founded the Haitian Communist Party in 1934, was arrested and, after three years in prison, traveled in Europe and the United States until his return in 1941 when he established the Bureau d'Ethnologie in an effort to legitimise the study of Haiti's peasantry. He was sent in 1943 to the Haitian Embassy in Mexico. It was there that he completed this book Gouverneurs de la Rosee a few months before his sudden death in 1944.

 

 

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(02/14/2009) The Healing by Gayl Jones. Boston. 1998. Beacon Press. keywords: Literature Black America Women. 285 pages. Jacket illustration by Leigh Wells. 0807063142.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Two decades after the publication of her last novel, EVA'S MAN, Gayl Jones returns with a new novel heralded by Newsweek as 'a major literary event. ' Nominated for the National Book Award, THE HEALING is the story of Harlan Jane Eagleton, a faith healer from Louisville, Kentucky, who travels from town to town restoring minds and bodies. Beginning in the present and working backward in time to the central mystery of the novel -- the story of her first healing -- Harlan revisits her various previous incarnations as the manager of a rising rock singer, the lover of an Afro-German horse dealer, a race-track gambler, and a small-town beautician. Lyrical and at times humorous, THE HEALING is a dramatic exploration of the struggle to let go of pain, anger, and even love.

 

 

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(02/12/2009) Petals Of Blood by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. New York. 1978. Dutton. keywords: Literature Kenya Black Africa. 347 pages. Jacket art by Mark Rubin. 0525178287.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Petals of blood appear on flowers sent up from land that has been paved over in the false name of progress and governed by greedy politicians and inept bureaucrats. Such a land is the Kenya of Ngugi's striking novel. In a small boom town in a rural district of this newly independent nation, three African directors of a foreign-owned brewery are killed and four suspects are taken into custody: Munira, who has come to llmorog as a schoolteacher and become the headmaster; Wanja, the lovely and wise barmaid, who has left the city, where she was forced to be a prostitute; Karega, who has turned from rebellion to organizing workers; Abdulla, the former Mau Mau guerrilla crippled in the struggle for Kenya's freedom from colonial power, who now makes a miserable living as a shopkeeper. As the investigation into the startling triple murder proceeds, the intertwined stories of the four suspects unfold and a devastating picture of modern-day Kenya emerges. it is a picture of exploitation and frustration in a land where the people feel their leaders have failed them time after time.

NGUGI WA THIONG'O - Who originally came to international fame as James Ngugi and is still known simply as Ngugi - was born in Kenya in 1938. He studied at Leeds, taught at Makerere and Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, and has been chairman of the literature department at the University of Nairobi. Ngugi is married and has six children.

 

 

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(02/10/2009) Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes. New York. 1930. Knopf. keywords: Literature Black America.

A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, poet Langston Hughes wrote only one novel -- but it is an incredibly powerful and moving work.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This 1930s coming-of-age tale, which unfolds amid an African-American family in rural Kansas, explores the dilemmas of life in a racially divided society. Langston Hughes, long recognized as a major American poet and an influential force in African-American literature, brought to this, his first novel, the lyricism, humor, and sureness of touch that characterizes his award-winning poetry. This story reflects the joys and hardships of an African-American boy growing to manhood.

 

 

 

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(02/09/2009) The Story Of The Cannibal Woman by Maryse Conde. New York. 2007. Atria/Simon & Schuster. Translated From The French By Richard Philcox. keywords: Literature Translated Guadeloupe Africa Black Women. 311 pages. Jacket design by Yoouri Kim. 0743271289. February 2007.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   One dark night in Cape Town, Rosalie's husband goes out for a pack of cigarettes and never comes back. Not only is she left with unanswered questions about his violent death but she is also left without any means of support. At the urging of her housekeeper and best friend, the new widow decides to take advantage of the strange gifts she has always possessed and embarks on a career as a clairvoyant. As Rosalie builds a new life for herself and seeks the truth about her husband's murder, acclaimed Caribbean author Maryse Conde crafts a deft exploration of post-apartheid South Africa and a smart, gripping thriller. THE STORY OF THE CANNIBAL WOMAN is both contemporary and international, following the lives of an interracial, intercultural couple in New York City, Tokyo, and Capetown. Maryse Conde is known for vibrantly lyrical language and fearless, inventive storytelling--she uses both to stunning effect in this magnificently original novel.

 

 

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(02/08/2009) The Negro In Our History by Carter G. Woodson & Charles H. Wesley. Washington DC. 1966. Associated Publishers. keywords: Black History America. 863 pages.

A general history from an important figure in African American history, Carter G. Woodson.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The purpose in writing this book was to present to the average reader in succinct form the history of the United States as it has been influenced by the presence of the Negro in this country. The aim here is to supply also the need of schools long since desiring such a work in handy form with adequate references for those stimulated to more advanced study. In this condensed form certain situations and questions could not be adequately discussed, and in endeavoring thus to tell the story the author may have left unsaid what others consider more important. Practically all phases of Negro life and history have been treated in their various ramifications, however, to demonstrate how the Negro has been influenced by contact with the Caucasian and to emphasize what the former has contributed to civilization. The author is indebted to Mr. David A. Lane, Jr. , who kindly assisted him in reading the entire proof. - CARTER G. WOODSON, WASHINGTON, D. C. April, 1922.

 

 

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(02/07/2009) Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. New York. 1959. McDowell Obolensky. keywords: Literature Nigeria Black Africa. 217 pages. Jacket design by Ronald Clyne.

A novel of Nigerian tribal life and how it changes in the course of its interactions with Europeans and specifically, Christians.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   THINGS FALL APART centers on Okonkwo, a self-made and successful man striving for an ascendant position in his village. The story takes place in a Nigerian village in the late 19th Century, and in it, Chinua Achebe, a young Nigerian writing in English, has dramatized the coherent, patterned past of his people and the effects of Western civilization upon it. Through Okonkwo's menage of three wives and many children, his ambitions and especially his honor and fierce prowess in battle, we are made to share the African's experience with his gods, his superstitions and customs, even his weather. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of his novel is that it succeeds in presenting a way of life, unknown and alien to us, from the inside. It is a story simultaneously absorbing in its strangeness and compelling in its compassionate observation of human nature. The background of the story is the life of the village--its feasts, wrestling matches, betrothal celebrations, and also its shrouded oracles and masked gods and the net of fear that can separate a mother from her child, a man from his heir. The story culminates with the arrival of the emissaries of the Western world, who bring their religion, government, and skill in fragmentary form to be dispersed and dismembered once more among an uncomprehending people--half hostile, half curious. Achebe writes clear, level, almost understated prose, and it is partly through his tautly controlled style that the power of the book is achieved. Chinua Achebe was born twenty-eight years ago in Nigeria. His father had been one of the earliest converts to Christianity in his village and was then a missionary teacher. Achebe attended the mission school in his village and after six years won a scholarship to a government secondary school. He says, 'Even in the village school I had developed an interest in English--a very elementary and stilted kind of English. I was hopeless at games, and I once had a report to the effect that I hardly existed outside the classrooms. My indifference to cricket has grown with the years. ' Achebe then won a scholarship to study Medicine at the University College at Iba-dan, but he soon realized that he had very little interest in science. After a year he switched to the Liberal Arts curriculum and edited the student magazine. He writes 'In the university I was definitely certain that I would write novels, and the story of THINGS FALL APART began to form vaguely in my mind. When in the end I settled down to write it I did not need any kind of draft. My main interest is in the life of the communities in the past. I have chosen a hinterland community far from the coastal peoples who have been debased by their participation in the cruelties of the slave trade. I am also interested in the problems of present day Nigeria and intend in my next novel to bring the story of Okonkwo's family up to date.'

 

 

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(02/06/2009) Weep Not, Child by James Ngugi. London. 1964. Heinemann. keywords: Literature Africa Kenya Black. 154 pages. Jacket design by Brian Russell.

A novel of the early days of Kenya's independence and a look at the resistance to the British colonialists through the eyes of Africans.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Njoroge's only true brother was Mwangi who had died in the white man's big war in Burma, Boro, Kori, and Kamau were all sons of his father's eldest wife, but they all behaved as if they were of one mother and home was a particularly happy place. Above everything else, Njoroge, the youngest, wanted to get education and become like the eldest son of the rich farmer, Jacobo, who had finished all the learning in Kenya and would now go to England. His father, Ngotho, was employed by Mr. Howlands who had come from England to farm the land. Together the two men would go from place to place, examining a new shoot or pulling out a weed, Ngotho felt responsible for the land because he owed it to the dead, the living and the unborn of his line to guard over it until the prophecy came true; Mr. Howlands walked through the shamba with a sense of victory because he had tamed this unoccupied wilderness. At school, Njoroge was good at reading. Education was the key to the future: when Jomo was arrested and a state of emergency declared, it made very little difference at first--everyone knew that Jomo would win, But, one day, Ngotho was arrested and tortured, Boro left to join the freedom fighters in the forest, Jacobo was killed and Mwihaki, his daughter, would not see Njoroge, Gradually all the family was drawn into the struggle and the war became a day-to-day tragedy. This first novel by a young Kikuyu is a moving study of the fight for freedom and the rich red earth of Kenya.

James Ngugi (Ngugi wa Thiong'o) was born at Limuru, Kenya, in 1938 and has just finished his last term at University College, Makerere, where he has been reading English. During his time at Makerere he has written two novels, The first of these was given the highest award in the East African Literature Bureau's competition in creative writing and is planned for publication in 1965, His play, THE BLACK HERMIT, was produced at the Uganda National Theatre as part of the Independence celebrations. He has also been editor of Penpoint, the journal of the Makerere Department of English, in which several of his own short stories have appeared. He is widely known also in Kenya as a literary and political journalist through his contributions to the Sunday Nation.

 

 

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(02/05/2009) Moving The Center: The Struggle For Cultural Freedoms by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. London/Nairobi/Portsmouth. 1993. James Currey/East Africa Educational Publishers/Heinemann. keywords: Literature Africa Kenya Black Essays Politics. 184 pages. 085255530x.

A collection of essays ranging from politics to history to cultural studies to language and how they are all tied together.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Ngugi argues that 'Culture is the product of a people's history. But it also reflects that history, and embodies a whole set of values by which a people view themselves and their place in time and space.' Developments in the last four hundred years have led to a situation where world cultures have been dominated by a handful of western nations. The West came to see itself as the centre of the universe. Cultural power, just as much as political and economic power, was controlled at the centre. In this collection Ngugi is concerned with moving the centre in two senses -- between nations and within nations -- in order to contribute to the freeing of world cultures from the restrictive walls of nationalism, class, race and gender. Between nations the need is to move the centre from its assumed location in the West to a multiplicity of spheres in all the cultures of the world. Within nations the move should be away froth all minority class establishments to the real creative centre among working people in conditions of racial, religious and gender equality. Ngugi believes that moving the centre in these ways is a crucial step in the struggle for true cultural freedoms throughout the world, in order to correct the imbalances of the last four hundred years of Eurocentric domination.

Ngugi is world-famous for his novels from WEEP NOT, CHILD to MATIGARI and for the impact of his plays, especially in Gikuyu, which led to his detention in Kenya. He has been teaching at Yale, Smith and Amherst and has recently been appointed Professor of Comparative Literature and Performance Studies at New York University. This book develops many of the concerns in DECOLONIZING THE MIND and branches out in new directions.

 

 

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(02/04/2009) Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising & The 1960s by Gerald Horne. Charlottesville. 1995. University Press Of Virginia. keywords: Black History Los Angeles Watts Riots. 443 pages. Jacket design by Gary Gore. 0813916267.

A well-documented history of the Los Angeles Watts rebellion of the 1960s.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   On August 1965 the predominantly black neighborhood of Watts in Los Angeles erupted in flames and violence following an incident of police brutality. This is the first comprehensive treatment of that uprising. Property losses reached hundreds of millions of dollars and the official death toll was thirty-four, but the political results were even more profound. The civil rights movement was placed on the defensive as the image of meek and angelic protestors in the South was replaced by the image of 'rioting' blacks in the West. A 'white backlash' ensued that led directly to Ronald Reagan's election as governor of California in 1966. Gerald Horne weaves a compelling account which suggests that crucial developments in the 1960s--including the rise of black nationalism and a white backlash--are grounded in the preceding decades' repression of the interracial left. The decline of the left and of working-class organizations resulting from the Red Scare in turn facilitated the rise of black nationalism. The Black Panther party, the most politically oriented group to develop in the wake of Watts, was bludgeoned out of existence, its place taken by masculinist gangs and gangsters. In FIRE THIS TIME Horne delineates the central roles played by Ronald Reagan, Tom Bradley, Martin Luther King, Jr. , Edmund G. Brown, and organizations such as the NAACP, Black Panthers, Nation of Islam, and gangs. He documents the role of the Cold War in the dismantling of legalized segregation, and he looks at the impact of race, region, class, gender, and age on postwar Los Angeles. All this he considers in light of world developments, particularly in Vietnam, the Soviet Union, China, and Africa.

 

 

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(02/03/2009) Bright & Morning Star by Richard Wright. New York. 1941. International Publishers. keywords: Literature America Black. 48 pages.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   First published in the 'New Masses', this is the first separate appearance of Wright's justly admired and much-anthologized short story, first published in the 1938 collection UNCLE TOM'S CHILDREN Wright donated this to the publisher and asked that the royalties be used as a fund raiser for Communist Earl Browder's defense fund.

 

 

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(02/02/2009) Lincoln On Race & Slavery edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Princeton. 2009. Princeton University Press. Edited & With An Introduction by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Co-edited by Donald Yacovone. keywords: History America Lincoln Slavery Race. 408 pages. Jacket design by Isabella D. Palowitch. 9780691142340. March 2009.

Lincoln's ideas about race and slavery were sometimes in conflict with each other. He saw them as separate ideas and his notions about both were complicated. A great look at an aspect of history as it was rather than as it is mythologized.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Generations of Americans have debated the meaning of Abraham Lincoln's views on race and slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, authorized the use of black troops during the Civil War, supported a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery, and eventually advocated giving the vote to black veterans and to what he referred to as 'very intelligent negroes.' But he also harbored grave doubts about the intellectual capacity of African Americans, publicly used the n-word until at least 1862, enjoyed 'darky' jokes and black-faced minstrel shows, and long favored permanent racial segregation and the voluntary 'colonization' of freed slaves in Africa, the Caribbean, or South America. In this book--the first complete collection of Lincoln's important writings on both race and slavery--readers can explore these contradictions through Lincoln's own words. Acclaimed Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr., presents the full range of Lincoln's views, gathered from his private letters, speeches, official documents, and even race jokes, arranged chronologically from the late 1830s to the 1860s. Complete with definitive texts, rich historical notes, and Gates's original introduction, this book charts the progress of a war within Lincoln himself. We witness his struggles with conflicting aims and ideas--a hatred of slavery and a belief in the political equality of all men, but also anti-black prejudices and a determination to preserve the Union even at the cost of preserving slavery. We also watch the evolution of his racial views, especially in reaction to the heroic fighting of black Union troops. At turns inspiring and disturbing, LINCOLN ON RACE AND SLAVERY is indispensable for understanding what Lincoln's views meant for his generation--and what they mean for our own.

 

 

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(02/01/2009) A Mercy by Toni Morrison. New York. 2008. Knopf. keywords: Literature America Black Women. 167 pages. Jacket illustration - 'Morning in the Tropics' by Frederic Edwin Church, 1877 Jacket design by Barbara de Wilde. 9780307264237. November 2008.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   A powerful tragedy distilled into a jewel of a masterpiece by the Nobel Prize-winning author of BELOVED and, almost like a prelude to that story, set two centuries earlier. In the 1680s the slave trade was still in its infancy. In the Americas, virulent religious and class divisions, prejudice and oppression were rife, providing the fertile soil in which slavery and race hatred were planted and took root. Jacob is an Anglo-Dutch trader and adventurer, with a small holding in the harsh north. Despite his distaste for dealing in 'flesh,' he takes a small slave girl in part payment for a bad debt from a plantation owner in Catholic Maryland. This is Florens, 'with the hands of a slave and the feet of a Portuguese lady. ' Florens looks for love, first from Lina, an older servant woman at her new master's house, but later from a handsome blacksmith, an African, never enslaved. There are other voices: Lina, whose tribe was decimated by smallpox; their mistress, Rebekka, herself a victim of religious intolerance back in England; Sorrow, a strange girl who's spent her early years at sea; and finally the devastating voice of Florens' mother. These are all men and women inventing themselves in the wilderness. A MERCY reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. But at its heart it is the ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and of a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment. Acts of mercy may have unforeseen consequences.

Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of many novels, including SULA, SONG OF SOLOMON, and BELOVED. She has also received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize for her fiction.

 

 

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(01/31/2009) Selected Stories by Adolfo Bioy Casares. New York. 1994. New Directions. Translated From The Spanish By Suzanne Jill Levine. keywords: Literature Translated Argentina Latin America. 176 pages. design by Hermann Strohbach. Jacket photograph of Adolfo Bioy Casares, by Eduardo Comesana, courtesy of Suzanne Jill Levine. 0811212750.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The Argentine Adolfo Bioy Casares,' writes translator Suzanne Jill Levine, 'is an urbane comedian, a parodist who turns fantasy and science fiction inside out to explore the banality of our scientific, intellectual, and especially erotic pretensions. Behind his post-Kafka, pre-Woody Allen sense of nonsense is a metaphysical vision, particularly of life's brevity and the slippery terrain of love. ' His Selected Stories, chosen from various collections published from the mid-'5Os to the late '80s, is aptly divided into two parts, 'The Labyrinth of Love' and 'Adverse Miracles,' ample frames for the author's amatory tales and wry magical realism. It is a fine introduction to one of Latin America's leading modern writers-and a choice retrospective of the master storyteller who won the 1990 Cervantes Prize, Spain's most prestigious literary award, for his lifetime work. CONTENTS: Introduction by Suzanne Jill Levine; I. Levine - A Secret Casanova; An Affair; Women Are All the Same; Men Are All the Same; Pearls Before Swine; Trio; II. ADVERSE MIRACLES - The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice; Flies and Spiders; Resurrection; About the Shape of the World; The Hero of Women; I THE LABYRINTH OF LOVE; Souvenir from the Mountains; A Roman Fable. The stories in this collection Were selected from the following books by Adolfo Bioy Casares: from Guirnalda con alnores, 'A Roman Fable,' 'A Secret Casanova,' 'An Affair,' 'Women Are All the Same,' 'Men Are All the Same,' 'Souvenir from the Mountains,' 'The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice,' 'Flies and Spiders,' 'Resurrection'; from El grab seraji'n 'Pearls Before Swine'; from El heroe de las snujeres, 'Trio,' 'The Noumenon,' 'An Unexpected Journey. ' Some of the translations were first published in the following books and magazines: The Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature, Descant, Fiction, The New Boston Review, and Persea, The translated epigraphs on pages 1 and 81 are taken, respectively, from Guirnalda con ainores and ABC.

Suzanne Jill Levine, Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, has translated several previous books of Adolfo Bioy Casares, among them A Russian Doll & Other Stories, published in 1992 by New Directions.

 

 

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(01/30/2009) Brigitta by Adalbert Stifter. London/Emmaus. 1957. Rodale Press. Translated From The German By Edward Fitzgerald. Illustrations By Peter Emmerich. keywords: Literature Austria Translated. 81 pages. Cover illustration by Peter Emmerich.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   This translation of BRIGITTA by Edward Fitzgerald is the only one available in English. The neglect of Adalbert Stifter in England and America is perhaps not altogether surprising for it is only comparatively recently that the realization of the importance of Stifter's work has come to the German-speaking countries. He is now regarded as the greatest prose-writer that Austria has produced. Born in 1805 in southern Bohemia, Stifter's adult years were passed mainly in Vienna and in Linz. In his early days in Vienna Stiffer made his living as private tutor to Prince Metternich's son Richard, and it was not until he was thirty-three that he published his first story. From that time onwards he wrote steadily and successfully. The scene of BRIGITTA is the immense expanse of the Hungarian puszta. Against this background Stifter examines, with great delicacy and quite undramatically, a problem of love and of sexual relationships. The tale is beautifully told. The book is illustrated with eight drawings in two colours by Peter Emmerich.

 

 

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(01/29/2009) London Fields by Martin Amis. London. 1989. Jonathan Cape. keywords: Literature England. 470 pages. 0224026097.

Creepy, compelling, and brilliant.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   There is a murderer, there is a murderee, and there is a foil. Everyone is always out there searching for someone and something, usually for a lover, usually for love. And this is a love story. But the murderee - Nicola Six -- is searching for something and someone else: her murderer. She knows the time, she knows the place, she knows the motive, she knows the means. She just doesn't know the man. There is a foil, and there is a murderer. And there is a murderee. London Fields is a brilliant, funny and multi-layered novel by one of the most formidably talented writers at work today. It is a book in which the narrator, Samson Young, enters the Black Cross, a thoroughly undesirable public house, and finds the main players of his drama assembled, just waiting to begin. It's a gift of a story from real life. all Samson has to do is write it as it happens. Taking a small pocket of time and a richly diverse part of London, Martin Amis dissects the nature of a society as it hurtles towards the end of the millennium. You may be horrified or uplifted by the conclusions to which he draws you, but there will be no denying the originality and power of this extraordinary novel.

 

 

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(01/28/2009) Nothing To Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes. New York. 2008. Knopf. keywords: Literature England Essays Death. 244 pages. Front-of-jacket photograph by Paul Stuart/Twenty Twenty Agency/ Cover design by Carol Devine Carson. 9780307269638. September 2008.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Two years after the best-selling ARTHUR & GEORGE, Julian Barnes gives us a memoir on mortality that touches on faith and science and family as well as a rich array of exemplary figures who over the centuries have confronted the same questions he now poses about the most basic fact of life: its inevitable extinction. If the fear of death is 'the most rational thing in the world,' how does one contend with it? An atheist at twenty, an agnostic at sixty, Barnes looks into the various arguments for and against and with God, and at the bloodline whose archivist, following his parents' death, he has become--another realm of mystery, wherein a drawer of mementos and his own memories often fail to connect. There are other ancestors, too: the writers--'most of them dead, and quite a few of them French'--who are his daily companions, supplemented by composers and theologians and scientists whose similar explorations are woven into this account with an exhilarating breadth of intellect and felicity of spirit. Deadly serious, masterfully playful, and surprisingly hilarious, NOTHING TO BE FRIGHTENED OF is a riveting display of how this supremely gifted writer goes about his business and a highly personal tour of the human condition and what might follow the final diagnosis.

 

 

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(01/27/2009) The Annotated Brothers Grimm by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm. New York. 2004. Norton. Edited & With A Preface & Notes By Maria Tartar. Introduction By A. S. Byatt. keywords: Fairy Tales Literature Germany Translated. 462 pages. 0393058484. September 2004.

If you are at all interested in the Brothers Grimm, you should have this annotated collection.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Maria Tatar is one of the absolute best historians of myth you can find. Lavishly illustrated. BROTHERS GRIMM celebrates the richness and dramatic power of the legendary fables in the most spectacular and unusual Grimm volume in decades. Containing forty stories in new translations by Maria Tatar-including 'Little Red Riding Hood,' 'Cinderella,' 'Snow White,' and 'Rapunzel'-the book also features 150 illustrations, many of them in color, by legendary painters such as George Cruikshank and Arthur Rackham; hundreds of annotations that explore the historical origins, cultural complexities, and psychological effects of these tales; and a biographical essay on the lives of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Perhaps most noteworthy is Tatar's decision to include tales that were previously excised, including a few bawdy stories and others that were removed after the Grimms learned that parents were reading the book to their children-stories about cannibalism in times of famine and stories in which children die at the end. Enchanting and magical, The Annotated Brothers Grimm will cast its spell on children and adults alike for decades to come. 75 color, 75 black-and-white illustrations.

Maria Tatar is dean for the humanities and John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is editor of THE ANNOTATED CLASSIC FAIRY TALES.

 

 

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    Uwagba, Otegha. Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods Uwagba, Otegha. Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods. London. 2020. 4th Estate. 9780008440428. 71 pages. paperback.  FROM THE PUBLISHER - In this powerful and timely personal essay, best-selling author Otegha Uwagba reflects on racism, whiteness, and the mental labour required of Black people to navigate relationships with white people. Presented as a record of Uwagba's observations on this era-defining moment in history - that is,[…]

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  • Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones

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    Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones. Durham. 2008. Duke University Press. 9780822341161. 311 pages. paperback. Cover photograph - Claudia Jones in 1948.  FROM THE PUBLISHER - In LEFT OF KARL MARX, Carole Boyce Davies assesses the activism, writing, and legacy of Claudia Jones (1915-1964), a pioneering Afro-Caribbean radical intellectual, dedicated communist, and feminist. Jones is buried[…]

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  • Painter, Nell Irvin. The History of White People

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    Painter, Nell Irvin. The History of White People Painter, Nell Irvin. The History of White People. New York. 2010. Norton. 9780393049343. 496 pages. hardcover. Cover design by Keenan.  FROM THE PUBLISHER - A mind-expanding and myth-destroying exploration of notions of white race - not merely a skin color but also a signal of power, prestige, and beauty to be withheld and granted selectively. Our story begins in Greek and Roman antiquity, where the[…]

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