The Contemporary African American Novel
Its Folk Roots and Modern Literary Branches
An essential guide for students and teachers of African American literature
In 1987 Bernard W. Bell published The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition, a comprehensive history of more than 150 novels written by African Americans from 1853 to 1983. The book won the Distinguished Scholarship Award of the College Language Association and was reprinted five times. Now Bell has produced a new volume that serves as a sequel and companion to the earlier work, expanding the coverage to 2001 and examining the writings and traditions of a remarkably wide array of black novelists.
"Absolutely essential to the teaching of African American literature . . . Bell is a rare scholar whose knowledge of authors, works, historical movements, social history, folk formations, and subgenres of fiction is strikingly impressive."—Trudier Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
"Professor Bell presents us with another groundbreaking study of the 'social' work performed by African American literature. Ranging over subjects including African heritage, masculinity, femininity, and personhood, the arts, and religious and political identities, The Contemporary African American Novel shows us how African American life has always found nuanced expression through African American literary forms. This is a major achievement by a major scholar."—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University
"Bell's brilliant new work is a history of the novel that demonstrates the intellectual breadth of that tradition. Traversing a terrain that stretches from the vernacular and oral traditions to contemporary mysteries and romances, Bell's explorations take us through Realism and Naturalism to Modernism, the Black Arts Movement, Postmodernism, Structuralism, and Post-Structuralism to Americentric tropes of multicultural identity and community. His readings are insightful and leave much food for thought. . . . Evident throughout is the author's meticulous thoroughness in clear and precise language that makes it a text no serious student of African American fiction can avoid."—Nellie Y. McKay, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"A masterful performance, tremendously impressive as a work of literary criticism and theory, historical scholarship, and cultural study. . . . It will become, without question, the standard work in the field, a stimulating source of critical insight and a valuable reference tool--one that everyone who writes about or teaches African American literature will need (and will be eager!) to own."—William E. Cain, Wellesley College