GUMBO: An Anthology of African American Writing

Marita Golden, Author, E. Lynn Harris, Joint Author . Broadway/Harlem Moon $17.50 (832p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1041-5

Over 70 writers have contributed to this "literary rent party," the proceeds of which will benefit the Hurston/Wright Foundation, an organization that gives annual financial awards to novelists, nonfiction writers and students. Novelists Golden (The Edge of Heaven, etc.) and Harris (Invisible Life, etc.) offer a motley collection of previously published short stories and excerpts from novels. The book starts off strong with Edwidge Danticat's "The Dew Breaker," in which a Haitian expat marries the man who she believes tortured and killed her brother, followed by an excerpt from Percival Everett's excellent satire Erasure, which hilariously skewers "ghetto prose" and poseurs. Contributors run the gamut from recent M.F.A. grads to such established figures as Walter Mosley, Gloria Naylor, Terry McMillan and Jewelle Gomez. Formidable newcomers include R. Erica Doyle, whose brief but potent "Fortune" hints at a love affair between two Trinidadian women, while Bryan Gibson's epistolary tour de force "Fear of Floating" features a housing project resident who inadvertently becomes a kind of therapist to his troubled neighbors. While it is at times clear that literary excellence was not the only criterion for inclusion, this sprawling collection handily reflects the diversity and vibrancy of contemporary African-American fiction. Readers can also take comfort in the fact that they aren't just getting a real bang for their fiction bucks, they're also supporting a worthy cause. (Dec. 3)

Reviewed on: 11/25/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
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