The Graywolf Annual Five: Multi-Cultural Literacy

Rick Simonson, Editor, Scott Walker, Editor Graywolf Press $12.95 (188p) ISBN 978-1-55597-114-4
These 13 essays challenge the hegemony of white, Eurocentric and patriarchal America in refuting the canon of national culture proposed by Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and E. D. Hirsch Jr.'s Cultural Literacy. Such luminaries as James Baldwin and Carlos Fuentes set forth with characteristic eloquence the prejudiced assumptions of the dominant culture. However, the real gems here are the works of lesser-knowns. Literary critic Paula Gunn Allen delineates major (and generally unacknowledged) contributions of North American Indians, noting the similarities of the Iroquois and U.S. federal governance systems, and emphasizing the North American Indian forerunners of modern-day feminists. Jamaican poet Michelle Cliff articulates with originality and precision the predicament of the colonized person of mixed race: ``If we failed . . . it was that one persistent drop of blood, that single rogue gene that made us unable to conceptualize abstract ideas, made us love darkness rather than despise it, which was to be blamed for our failure.'' Despite a few self-important inclusions, this anthology is commanding and persuasive. Simonson is a Seattle-based book-buyer and Walker is Graywolf's publisher. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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